Socialist Worker

The world's eyes will be on London

Issue No. 1891

'WE NEED an end to the premiership of Tony Blair. On 20 March we will be demanding that Blair must go.' That call from George Galloway MP was made to the 600 delegates from across the country at the Stop the War Coalition conference in London last Saturday. The conference came against the background of the build-up to the 20 March national Stop the War Coalition demonstration, and with the war once again plunging Blair's government into crisis.

'On 20 March the world will be watching London,' Stop the War Coalition chair Andrew Murray told the conference. 'The government will be watching, hoping that we fail. And the rest of the world will be watching, hoping the movement that has inspired millions is still there, still fighting the most dangerous war drive any of us has ever seen.'

Coalition convenor Lindsey German told the conference, 'Tony Blair wants to draw a line under the war. That is no surprise. Everything the government said about the war was wrong. Everything we said about the war was right.'

George Galloway MP also told the conference, 'An offensive against Clare Short has been launched by those paragons of truth and virtue Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell and John Reid. We have our criticisms of Clare Short. But if Clare Short is a dangerously unstable woman, how come she was in Tony Blair's war cabinet until 12 months ago?

'Robin Cook has called her a liar. But she insists it is true that statements by Kofi Annan were circulated in contravention of international treaties.' And Jeremy Corbyn MP said, 'I wish Clare Short had resigned a month earlier than she did. But she is telling the truth about what the government has been doing.

'I was at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. I felt the real enthusiasm there for the idea of a world day of action against war. On 20 March we are all out there together, saying the same thing: end the war, end the occupation, end the attacks on civil liberties.'

David Shayler, who was prosecuted for leaking intelligence documents to the press in 1997, told the conference, 'The intelligence services always fail to gather evidence on the Middle East. I was told to 'sex up' a report into Libya's support for terrorism. Now we will have to pay more tax to fund more MI5 agents, the highest number since the Second World War, because of their own incompetence. When I hear David Blunkett wants trials with a lower standard of proof, held in secret if the case threatens 'national security', I am scared.'

Richard Searle, a delegate from Manchester, told the conference, 'Blair is coming to Manchester in March. On Friday 12 March we are having a trial of Tony Blair just 100 yards from the hotel Blair is staying in. On Saturday 13 March we are having a monster demo against Pinocchio Blair. This is all part of the build-up to the national demo in London on 20 March.'

The 1,500 people protesting in Inverness outside the Scottish Labour Party conference last Saturday had almost 1,500 reasons for chanting, 'BliAr Out!' From Blunkett's sickening immigration laws, to underpaid nursery nurses, to closing hospitals, to Palestine and those, er...WMDs. The demo was called by the Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War and was attended by protesters from across Scotland as well as local people.


British troops facing new death charges

MORE EVIDENCE of the brutality of British soldiers in Iraq is emerging, on top of the revelations we reported in Socialist Worker last week. The families of 13 Iraqis killed by British soldiers in the last 10 months are taking the British government to court.

They have written to defence secretary Geoff Hoon demanding he order an inquiry into the 'unlawful killings', accept liability and give compensation. The families' lawyer, Paul Shiner, said, 'It is a shock to discover that British troops have caused the deaths of so many innocent Iraqis since our occupation began on 2 May 2003.'

No British soldier has been suspended from duty over such matters since May 2003. The cases involved in the court action include:

  • Jaafer Hashim Majeed, 13, killed when he was playing outside his Basra home by an unexploded cluster bomb.

  • Hanan Shmailawi, 33, shot dead as she sat down to supper with her husband and children. 'We could not understand why British soldiers would fire into our home,' says her husband.

  • Hazim Jum'AA Gatteh al-Skeini, killed as he and his family gathered for the funeral of another villager. The British army offered £540 to the family. Another Iraqi, Abed Abdul Kareem Hussan, was shot dead by British troops in the same incident. The British officer in charge in the area admitted, 'The two men shot by the British patrol had not intended to attack anyone.'

  • Kasber Farhoud Jasim, fishing with a small group when he was shot in the head by a passing British river patrol.

  • Riyadh Turki Taha Yaseen, 65, was shot dead while working late at night restarting the water pump on his farm. Soldiers mistook the hammer in his hand for a weapon. 'I want an investigation into how my father was killed,' says his son.

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    Sat 6 Mar 2004, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1891
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