Stop the bombing! Stop the killing! Free Palestine! Reports from Palestine solidarity demos around the UK
- Category: War and Imperialism
- Published on Monday, 14 July 2014
- Written by Tom Mycock
Emergency demonstrations have been organised all over the world in anger and sadness at yet another brutal bombardment by Israel against the people of Gaza, with a death toll into the hundreds, massive civilian casualties and destruction of homes, livelihoods and vital services.
We present here some brief reports from demonstrations around the UK. Please check out the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for more information on upcoming solidarity event, and do your best to attend the national demonstration on Saturday 19 July.
Thanks to our comrades in rs21 for some of these reports and photos.
(Pic: Jonny J)
10,000 people took part in a large demonstration in London on Friday 11 July against the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Neil R reported from the demo:
Thousands of people are blocking Kensington High St outside the Israeli Embassy in London, in protest at the continuing bombardment of Gaza. All traffic has been stopped for several hundred yards.The demonstration is predominantly young and Muslim. The crowd of people has blocked in several buses. A number 9 bus has been ‘liberated’ by demonstrators and they are now waving Palestinian flags on the roof. The police keep on trying to stop people from joining the protest. The atmosphere is electric.
(Pic: Jonny J)
This demo was called by the local Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch. Up to 1000 people joined the action. The vast majority were from the Asian community in the city plus a few students from PalSoc. We had a good response from locals passing by and the chanting was often angry.
Shanice M reported that she’d never seen a demonstration so big in Birmingham city centre:
Approximately 1000 demonstrators gathered at the Clock Tower in Leicester city centre on Friday, at a vigil for Gaza called by the pro-Palestinian charity Friends of Al Aqsa, a campaigning organisation with strong local roots and a proven record of successful mobilisation. The demonstrators were mainly local Muslims and the atmosphere was peaceful but passionate.
In Manchester during the 2012 Gaza crisis, 200 marched through Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. This time thousands marched to the BBC and ITV studios in Salford to protest their lack of coverage.
400 pro-Palestine activists demonstrated their solidarity with the people of Gaza in Cardiff on Saturday 11 July. The protest was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The thing that struck me about this protest was the number of young Muslim women and men in attendance and it was great to see. Israel has laid siege to Gaza, killing over 120 Palestinian people in its five-day bombardment, including two people from a charity for disabled people in Beit Lahiya. As bombs are pouring down from the sky in Gaza, injured children lay in school corridors awaiting desperately needed medical attention. Gaza is effectively an open air prison: Palestinians have no control over their land and sea borders. All imports in to Gaza have to be approved by Israel or Egypt and the Egyptian coup authorities recently denied medical supplies to enter Gaza via the Rafah border.
I caught up with Cardiff-based activist Ola Ashi, 22, who is a member of Dar Ul-Israa community centre based in the city. Ola told me that she is a Palestinian woman from Gaza, who is a protester and campaigner because she is from Palestine and campaigning against injustice is part of her identity. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) have been supporting campaigns for the last few years across the UK. At Cardiff University, where Ola graduated last year in Psychology, she was active on campus, drawing attention to injustice around the world with FOSIS, putting on projects such as Justice Week and was involved in screening the film Palestine 101 for a movie night. Ola helped to organise the Palestine conference in Nottingham, with speakers including Norman Finkelstein and PSC campaigners. Ola was also active on the Egypt and Libya solidarity protests.
Ola is involved in an organisation of medics and psychologists who go to Gaza and help in hospitals. Over the next 48 hours Israel will decide whether to send up to 40,000 ground troops in to Gaza. While the Palestinian people await their fate, we must come together in solidarity and protest at the Israeli embassy, outside the Israeli consulates' offices, and at the BBC because of their biased coverage, along with the thousands of people who are taking to the streets across the country.
Ola was a great inspiration to us today. After a mainly male-dominated start on the megaphone, we were in much need of women’s voices, so this fantastic Palestinian woman took to the platform and talked about her family in Gaza, who asked whether we even know they are being killed and asking for her to tell us, and in turn we must take action and tell our friends and colleagues. Ola then led the protest through the busy streets of Cardiff, shouting, “Free, free Palestine!”
The anxiety and urgency of demonstrators at Market Square today was palpable. As the day heated up so did tempers. A woman passer-by professed that the fault was on Palestinian side and Lebanon weren’t helping. Several demonstrators had to be held back as they argued the Palestinian case. Despite a heavy tourist presence there was a good take-up of signing the petition urging our government to recognise Israeli war crimes and people came forward to ask for leaflets to get information of which groups to join and where to get info from.
It was heartening to see young people on their bikes come join the procession as we marched around Market Square and onto King’s Parade. The lads on their pitch trying to get people to take up punting actually took leaflets off me and joined in the chanting! My favourite chant of today was to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’: “We don’t need no occupation, we don’t need no apartheid wall. Hey, Israel! Leave our kids alone! All in all, Israel, one day you’re gonna fall!”
NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION FOR GAZA
Assemble at 12 noon, Saturday 19 July at Downing Street. March to Israeli Embassy.
Information on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website