by Renée Sams
NEARLY 1,000 people gathered in Russell Square last Sunday not far from where the suicide bombers killed over 50 people on 7th July. The gathering was held in the street beside the gardens as Camden Council had refused to permission to hold the speeches in the gardens.
The event was called by the Stop the War Coalition to support the Muslim community and to express condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives. One minute’s silence was held and many people left flowers.
There was wide support for the meeting from trade unionists in London Amicus, the General Municipal and Boilermakers’ union, Transport and General Workers’ Union, Labour Against the War, Respect and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Military Families Against the War, and many ordinary Londoners who were shocked by the horror of the bombs.
Andrew Murray said that the Stop The War Coalition was proud to work with MAB and he affirmed that: “We will not stop campaigning; we are still going to fight for the withdrawal of the troops.”
Peter Brearly, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, said that initially he had been proud of his son going to war, but since his death he had thought a lot about it and he is now convinced that we must withdraw the armed forces from Iraq.
“Blair is not going to do anything about the war Iraq” he said, “or tell us the truth about what caused it. We have been told lie after lie and now we have got to have the truth.”
A speaker from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said, “We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. Every heart goes out to them.” And she continued: “The Government is now trying to pass the buck to the intelligence community but they are not the root cause behind these terrible incidents.”
The Government will not acknowledge the link between the bombing incidents and their foreign policy of supporting the US and the war in Iraq.
“The only way we can deal with these atrocities,” she said, “is to deal with the causes and demand genuine peace and democracy that is the only way it will be resolved.”
A young Muslim woman from MAB said that she was nervous of getting on buses because she felt the hostility of people who thought that the Muslim community was to blame for the bombing.
She also stressed: “We must be told the truth about Afghanistan and Palestine as well as Iraq.”
A speaker from the TGWU expressed the thanks of many for the wonderful work of the emergency services who have struggled tirelessly to help the injured – and the railway workers who are still endeavouring to restore the underground services in terrible conditions. He made a strong call for the “immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq”.
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green condemned the bombing as mass murder and said that he did not believe that these acts of terror have no connection with government foreign policy and their support for Bush and the war in Iraq.
Tony Blair maintains that this is “to preserve our way of life”. George said that, “if this is his way of life, it is not our way of life”. And he added “what they do in our name we will not accept without protest”.
To young Muslim men misled into thinking that their deaths could help the situation, he hoped that they would find that “there are better ways to protest than blowing yourself up”.
He said: “We have argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attacks in Britain. Tragically, Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings.”
He called on the peace movement to redouble its efforts, and in conclusion he called for people to “stand shoulder to shoulder telling the truth because truth is the only way we can get out of this mess”.