Socialist Worker

Former Guantanamo detainee calls for Respect vote

by Adam Yosef
Issue No. 1948

Recently released Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg believes that Respect candidate Salma Yaqoob would champion the rights of those still imprisoned at the camp.

He told a 350-strong Respect rally in Birmingham last Sunday, “If you vote for Salma and if she’s your MP, she’ll raise that issue stronger and higher than anyone else.”

He was joined by journalist and playwright Victoria Brittain, Respect Leicester South candidate Yvonne Ridley, Dr Jafer H Qureshi and the adviser to the bishop of Birmingham.

The speakers listed why we could not vote for Labour and why it was now time for a change. Victoria Brittain talked about the erosion of our civil liberties, saying:

“When I wake up in the morning the first thing I think of is Tony Blair having breakfast with his family and then my thoughts go to those whose husbands, brothers and sons have been imprisoned without charge or trial in Guantanamo Bay and Belmarsh prison.”

Contributions were made by Salma Iqbal, whose family has been deeply affected by the Rover crisis after her father lost his job of 25 years at the company, and by Wageha Zahra of Jamia Khadijatal Kubra School in Pakistan, who encouraged women to play a greater role in the political process.

Chris Hewer echoed many of the speakers as he stressed the importance of Salma Yaqoob’s election to parliament as a milestone for a better Britain and a better Birmingham.

Salma Yaqoob talked about why it was time for the current New Labour MP to go:

“It is time to show Roger Godsiff that our votes are not cheap. He has had the support of the people of Small Heath for the past 12 years, but what has he done for us?

“Here in Small Heath we are expected to live among rats and rubbish, we have a disgracefully high infant mortality rate. Meanwhile, Godsiff votes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have to say enough is enough, it’s time for change, it’s time for Respect!”

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Sat 23 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1948
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