Sunday, October 25, 2009
When A Protest Fills Trafalgar Square, It Is Serious Business Indeed
Fig. 1 We marched from Hyde Park, and the numbers swelled... (all photos mine)
Fig.2 Bill Patterson reads protest poetry and Corin Redgrave is justifiably outraged.
Fig.3 Hetty Bower is 104 and still marching.
Fig. 4 They tried to bar her, and then gave in
Just by a chance encounter, I took part in a major protest to mark the EIGHTH anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion yesterday in London. In the vanguard, I witnessed all the procedures from start to finish, and all were executed with integrity and high purpose. The route from Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square lay open to us, traffic being entirely diverted. Once in Trafalgar Square, a succession of speakers eloquently stated the essentials of the protest, which indeed reflect the growing disapproval of the war in newly overwhelming numbers. A UK soldier who was refusing to return to Afghanistan spoke, as did a Gitmo survivor (who said that Bagram is worse than Gitmo; indeed, those in Bagram would RATHER be in Gitmo...), the eminent Tony Benn, and the always-on-target Tariq Ali, among others.
Personally, I felt connected to all of them, as I too, in my own tiny way, had been completely opposed to the 2001 invasion. It was a vindication, I suppose, but without a unsuccessful outcome as of yet. The emphasis was on the fact that awareness must be spread, and unremitting pressure to be brought on all politicians. Gordon Brown was heavily indicted.
We concluded with a lively march on #10 Downing St., where a lady from Liverpool, who had collected 30,000 signatures opposing the war, was able, after some tension, to present her petition to the Prime Minister. I was chagrined (but not surprised) to see that Downing is now a fortified compound. One used to be able to stroll by #10 at any time. At any rate, the woman had success in offering up her contribution to the quest for peace.