Sunday, 27 December 2009

Brown and Blair: both will be focus for protests

It's exactly a year since anti-war activists - most of us relaxing in a post-Christmas haze, grateful for some time off - sprang into action, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Just two weeks after Israel began its bombardment of Gaza, we helped create the biggest pro-Palestine demo in this country's history. Over 100,000 people filled the streets of central London, on 10 January, in a march that was both broad and militant. Since then Palestine has remained important, but increasingly the occupation of Afghanistan has come to the fore as a priority for campaigners.

Stop the War is already gearing up for mobilising in the early part of 2010, with news of a protest at Gordon Brown's 28 January international conference on escalating the war in Afghanistan. Protest details will be released very soon. Following this, in March, there will be an international day of action which calls for all NATO troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. This will include a national demonstration in London.

Then, of course, there's Tony Blair's eagerly-awaited appearance at the Iraq inquiry. This is widely expected to be in January, though it may not be until February - whatever the date, there's likely to be only a few days' notice for calling protests. Stop the War's latest statement says: 'We want to mobilise the biggest possible protest against the man now widely regarded as having broken international law in taking Britain to war.'

The movement will also be organising to ensure Afghanistan is a prominent issue in the campaign for the general election, likely to be in the spring. In the words of Stop the War: 'Our priority for 2010 will be to intensify the pressure on the government to bring the troops home, reflecting the view of an ever increasing majority of people in Britain. The recent US and British troop surge, the extension of the Afghan war into Pakistan and Yemen, and the threats against Iran, make our campaign more important than ever.'

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