Militant Protests against Genocidal
Over 200 people yesterday marched from Trafalgar Square to
the Foreign Office to condemn the British government on the 10th anniversary of
the imposition of sanctions against Iraq.
The demonstrators carried placards and banners depicting
some of the more than half a million children who have died as a consequence of
the sanctions. Around half of the people participating lay down in the road
outside the Foreign Office in Whitehall, blocking two lanes of traffic.
Police forcibly removed the demonstrators from the road,
showing no respect for the people involved in their manhandling of them, nor
for the political aim of the protest. Six people were arrested.
Among prominent figures supporting the demonstration were
the Anglican Archbishop for Wales, Dr Rowan Williams, playwright Harold Pinter,
and comedian and writer Jeremy Hardy. In also supporting the protest, the Roman
Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, the Rt Rev Thomas McMahon, said in a statement:
"The sanctions policy has devastated Iraqi society. For 10 years the
ordinary members of society have paid an appalling heavy penalty for decisions
and actions over which they had no control. The impact on the Iraqi health
service and upon availability of basic necessities has cost the lives of many
people, and particularly the lives of children."
Nadje al-Ali, of Women in Black, one of the organisers of
the demonstration along with Voices in the Wilderness and Youth CND, said the
action had been successful in terms of attracting media attention and raising
awareness of the issue. She said, "Even if we lifted sanctions tomorrow,
it would take generations to undo what has been done."
The previous day, Sunday, on the actual anniversary of the
imposition of sanctions, Dave Rolstone, a member of the group Voices in the
Wilderness, who have been seriously campaigning against the sanctions and the
war against Iraq for many years, climbed up the Millennium Wheel. After an hour
and a half, after discussions with the police, he agreed to climb down on
condition that he was not arrested and he would be allowed to talk the media.
He said, "I have visited Iraq myself and seen first hand the devastating
effects of economic sanctions. This government's policy is a crime against