By New Worker correspondent
OVER 100 demonstrators, many of them Libyan students, took part in an peace protest against the London Conference on Libya at Lancaster House last Tuesday. The protesters, hoisting green flags, chanted 'Stop bombing Libya', “Hands off Libya', “No war for oil”, 'Down down Cameron', and ' Down, down Obama”.
No one was allowed to get near the conference venue and the protest was confined to a street leading to Lancaster House. “As always when they get these people together there is an exclusion zone or a security zone,” said Chris Neiman of Stop the War Coalition. “We are protesting because we think Western intervention in Libya is a disaster,” he said. “ We are here to say that Western leaders should have learned by now from Iraq and Afghanistan that you can't bomb a country into democracy. What is liable to happen – what is already happening – is that Western bombs are causing civilian casualties. They are creating a situation which will be perceived as one in which Western powers are leading a third war against a Muslim country. I just can't understand why or how this can possibly help any move towards democracy by the people of Libya. I think this is liable to draw the country and the draw the West into a widening war, possibly lead to the partition of the country but do nothing to improve the lives of the people of Libya”.
“I am protesting here today because we don't believe that military might is the way to stop complex political problems”, said Kate Hudson the General Secretary of CND. “Our concern is that the increasing use of military force, including the quite substantial use of cruise missiles and other missiles will result in large numbers of civilians casualties. We think it is up to the Libyan people to decide for themselves who runs their country and how their country is run and they should come to their own conclusions about that. We are here today particularly outside this conference because increasingly the agenda is looking less like the supposed humanitarian mission that was spoken about a week or so ago. Now the talk seems to be about regime change for Libyan, the West's role in political change in that country, the West's role in helping to rebuild that country and helping to determine its future. It is clear that the West has had a long history of involvement in North Africa and in the Middle East. That involvement has generally led to the disenfranchisement of the people of those countries and that process has to end. Foreign countries should be out of Libya and other Middle Eastern countries and those countries should decide for themselves what relationships they wish to have with other independent states. So our view is Libya must determine its own future without Western or any foreign military intervention”.
“We are against the war, we don't want our children and our families to be killed”, said Dekhil Ramadan a Libyan student. “That is the reason why we are here. We are supporting our families and our country. We support Colonel Gaddafi. All the tv news you are seeing is a lie. They don't tell us the truth. They are only portraying one view. They just show all the news for one view. The people they call the revolutionaries or the rebels they are not revolutionaries. They destroy all the buildings. If you want to have a demonstration it has to be peaceful. Like in Egypt and Tunisia. This is not a demonstration. There are people from Egypt, Tunisia and Pakistan so we see that Al Qaeda is there. The people who have been captured are from Algeria, from Afghanistan and from Yemen. So it is not the Libyan people who are taking part in this demonstration. The Libyan people have to demonstrate, not people from other countries”.
“I want this bombing to stop. That is why I am here,” said Huda Shebani a Libyan student who has taken a break from her studies to defend her country. “I want these countries to take their hands out of my country because we can solve our problem ourselves. That is why I am protesting. Every day my family is calling me and telling me they started bombing us in my home town. They destroyed even my college. They say they are saving the civilians. What civilians are they saving? They want our oil and say they are saving civilians. Why don't they just say we want your oil? We will defend ourselves”.