Yesterday, I travelled down to London to take part in the Hands Off Syria protest.
We assembled at 12 at Temple Place and then set off around 1, marching past Parliament and eventually ending up at Trafalgar Square.
There were thousands of us marching but the reason it wasn’t hundreds of thousands was simple: we stopped the war.
More specifically, we stopped the UK allying with the US in an invasion of Syria. Cameron lost the vote in Parliament and the major reason he did so was because of the UK antiwar movement.
As Jeremy Corbyn said in his speech at Trafalgar Square, when people ask what the Stop The War Coalition and antiway movement has done, what war has it stopped, we can point at the lives we’ve saved in Syria.
In the intervening decade, we have marched and shouted and emailed our MPs and whipped up trouble ~ we have promoted and fostered the career politician’s greatest fear: democracy. The MPs who voted against the invasion know very well that the British public incorporates a strong and determined antiwar movement.
At the rally, many speakers spoke out against the atrocities in Syria, the deaths of civilians as the result of both normal and chemical weapons. What Syria needs is international humanitarian aid on a huge scale. Not more bombs, more deaths. Look at what we’ve created in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bloody toll. No sane person would wish that on Syria. Remember this quote from Roland Huguenin, one of six International Red Cross workers in the Iraqi capital:
“There has been an incredible number of casualties with very, very serious wounds in the region of Hilla. We saw that a truck was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe this was happening.”
That is what the West achieves when it seeks to “liberate” a country from a dictator.
The no vote split the UK from the US. Now, only the US and France are seeking war on Syria. And, since the UK’s vote, Obama has had to back-pedal on his sabre-rattling. Yesterday, he said he’ll be seeking congressional approval before any move to war.
So, the immediate crisis, Western mass-slaughter of Syrian civilians through a joint US/UK attack is derailed (for now). However, the crisis in Syria of Syrians killing Syrians still exists. The numbers of refugees, the dead and the dying must not be forgotten. We have to lobby our government to provide any humanitarian aid it can at the same time as examining its own links in terms of supplying the Syrian government with weapons. Weapons it is quite happy to use against its own population.