Delegates representing millions of anti-war campaigners across the world this week pledged themselves to organising demonstrations, protests and rallies to mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
The call for protests in the week of 15 to 22 March 2008 emerged from the World Against War conference held in London on Saturday of last week.
The conference, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, brought together over 1,200 international and British delegates to debate the threat of war on Iran, and the bloody occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
Delegates also discussed a series of “proxy wars” in Somalia and Lebanon – as well and the dangers of a “new cold war” between the US and Russia.
Tony Benn, president of Stop the War, welcomed those attending, saying, “It is vital that our movement remains united and confident that we could win.”
Speakers from the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the US reinforced his point and spoke of the how the anti-war movements were creating a global force for peace.
Ibrahim Mousawi, editor of Lebanon’s pro-resistance newspaper Al-Intiqad told the conference that the massive demonstration in London against Israel’s war on Lebanon last year was proof that ordinary people are not “blinded by media portrayal of resistance groups as ‘terrorists’.”
Hassan Jumaa, the leader of the Iraqi oil workers’ union, condemned the occupation of his country and the attempts to seize its natural resources. He said his union was committed to “independence and self determination for the Iraqi people”.
Hans von Sponeck, the former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said that although he did not want an immediate withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq, the occupation had to be dismantled.
Sponeck attacked plans for a “soft partition” of Iraq, and argued that permanent US military bases in the country would spell disaster.
The strength of the peace movement, he said, was its ability to transcend national borders and build a “people to people movement – something that politicians could not do.”
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, wrapped up the opening session by decrying “the permanent state of war” that began six years ago.
Answering those in Britain who argue that the movement has finished its work now that British troops are withdrawing from Iraq, Lindsey said, “This is far from over. British troops are still in the south.
“The US ‘surge’ has led to the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and increasing repression. And it’s certainly not all over for the people of Afghanistan where civilian casualties are growing dramatically.
“It hasn’t even begun for the peoples of Iran,” she warned. “We commit today that we are the people who will campaign to stop any attack on Iran.”
Hwan Young Kim from South Korea addressed the session on global reports.
He said the anti-war movement had forced the Korean government to begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, and was now pressing for withdrawal from Iraq and Lebanon as well.
Kate Hudson, chair of CND, said, “We represent the vast majority of people around the world who are opposed to war.” Nancy Romer of US Labour Against the War – part of the United for Peace and Justice campaign – condemned what she called the “savage capitalism” at the heart of US imperialism.
The conference was informed that as they met, Turkish troops had begun a massive bombardment of Kurdish northern Iraq. Delegates roundly condemned Turkey’s actions.
Khaled Hadade, general secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party, spoke of the alliance in support of the resistance between Islamists and the left across the Middle East.
“We support the resistance movements not because they are Islamists,” he said, “but because the left is completely opposed to imperialism.”
The Communist Party fought alongside Hizbollah during Israel’s war on Lebanon last July. It is now part of the opposition to US meddling in the country’s affairs.
The final session heard from Javier Couso, the brother of a journalist killed by US troops in Iraq, and Rose Gentle, whose son was killed during his deployment in the south of the country.
They both called for justice for the victims of war.
In its final declaration the conference called for the immediate withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, justice for the Palestinians, and for an end to Israeli aggression throughout the Middle East.
For videos of the speeches and the conference declaration go to
Sixth Cairo Conference
27 to 30 March 2008