Hussain Ussali is from a Lebanese family. He lives and works in Manchester. He travelled down on a Manchester stop the war coach with his mother and two sisters. Hussein told Socialist Worker that it is the first demonstration that they have ever attended. He said that he felt he “must do everything in my capability to raise awareness of what is happening.
“The truth is that America have made clear their support for Israel and Tony Blair is following suit.”
Hussein is worried for his family still living in Lebanon. He said, “Some of the family live in the south of Lebanon. They have fled to Beirut. We cannot contact them. We have been trying on the phone, on their mobiles. We are very worried.
“For the sake of humanity, people must take notice of what is happening.”
Anne Greaves came to the demo with her son and two friends from Hay-on-Wye in Wales. She told Socialist Worker that she feels very strongly that “Britain and America are poking their nose into things that are not their concern, not militarily anyway. America has its own agenda. Let’s face it, Israel is backed and armed by America and even our own government is letting arms be transported through Britian to Israel.
“There is no justification for this scale of killing. People talk about these so called “Arab terrorists” but no one asks what the reasons are for why they act the way their do.
“As to nuclear weapons, who are we to say who should have them? Why shouldn’t Iran and Syria have nuclear weapons. We have them, America has them, Israel especially has them.”
Ted Proferes, a US citizen living in London came to the demo with his partner and their two children. He told Sociliast Worker “We are not aligned to any group, we just feel strongly about what is happening. We want to protest at the bombing of innocent children in Lebanon and call for an immediate ceasefire. We believe that the US and Britian are not pursing a policy that is productive. We are calling on them to change course and support peace.
“I feel we have to try to exert some influence over our governments. Should the US choose to, they could cause an immediate ceasefire.”
Clare Blackwell and Iain Blackwell
Clare Blackwell, 19, is a student at Southampton Uni. She came to the demo with her brother Iain who is a school student in Oxford.
Clare said that “What this government does doesn’t represent at all what anyone in the country thinks and it just makes me sick. We have to take and stand and show that everyone in Britian thinks Blair should support Israel or invade any country he wants to.”
Iain, 16, added, “I don’t think Blair took much notice of the Iraq demos and I don’t know if he’ll pay much attention to this, but we have to be here to show that we don’t all agree with him.”
Nikki Stephenson, Gareth Edwards, Nathan, Sam and Michael
Nikki Stephenson and Gareth Edwards live in Peterborough. They came to the demo with their two sons, Nathan and Sam, and their nephew Michael.
Nikki said, “For me, the most important thing is that we need a ceasefire. The deaths in Lebanon, and actually in Israel, are appalling because it’s completely uneccessary. There needs to be some action to stop the killing.
“Blair could take action if he wanted to. He seems to be arguing that he is doing something. But he should have spoken out right at the very beginning. It was obvious what was going to happen.”
Gareth added, “Blair seems to want a ceasefire when Israel have finished their business. It’s terrifying.
“Blair is supporting George Bush. To a foreigner it will look like Britian is supporting Israel. We voted him in after all so he says that he is doing this for us. It is terrible.
“Britain is not the world power it used to be, but Blair could hold some sway still. If he walked away it would have some impact on America, at least politically, anyway.”
Nikki agreed: “It would certainly make a big difference in everyone else’s eyes.”
Their son Nathan, 12, said that he was on the demo because he wants the killing to stop. He told Socialist Worker “It’s not right that Isreal are killing civillians in Palestine and Lebanon.”
Amina Rahman and Dunia El-Zobaidi
Dunia El-Zobaidi and Amina Rahman are students in London. They met up with a group of friends on the demo. Dunia told Socialist Worker “I am Iraqi so I feel the pain of people in the middle east. The way the British news and the BBC report it is not as it really is.
“They say there is democracy is Iraq but they have made it worse. It gets worse every day. I am on the demonstration to try to stop them doing the same thing to Lebanon. It’s about oil and power in the middle east.”
Amina added “I think the west are trying to pull Iran and Syria into the conflict so that they can start a fight with them.
“We have to demonstrate because if we no one takes a stand, they can think that no one cares and they will push it as far as they can. They will push it anyway, but they cannot ignore the thousands of people here.”
Jeremy Guise, the communications officer for Plymouth City Unison branch helped to carry his union banner on the demo. He said “About a dozen members of our union branch have come to the demo. Our members are outraged at the disproportionate attack that the Israelis have perpetrated on the Lebanese people, the slaughter of the innocent in that country and the destruction of its infrastructure. We are particularly angry at our own government for not demanding an immediate ceasefire.
“The trade unions should stop supporting the labour party if the labour party can’t represent the views of ordinary people in this country.
“Ordinary trade unionists don’t want to be part of the occupation of Iraq or the alliance with the neo cons who run the United States. We want investment in schools and hospitals. These are the issues that our members want addressed. They don’t want lots of money spent on waging wars that bring slaughter and destruction to other countries.
“I hope as many people as possible will go to the Manchester to the demonstration at the Labour conference. Britain is still divided between the haves and have nots. We have to raise our voices loud and clear that there are a lot of domestic issues going ignored while their foreign wars go unchecked. Ordinary people want peace and social justice.”