Anti-war protest at US embassy – Syrians not allowed a speaker

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Demonstrators outside the US embassy on Saturday demanding no military intervention against Syria or Iran
Demonstrators outside the US embassy on Saturday demanding no military intervention against Syria or Iran

A rally of over 300 people was organised outside the US embassy in London on Saturday, against Western intervention in Iran and Syria.

The protest was called by the Stop the War Coalition and supported by Unite union, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention on Iran (CASMII), Friends of Al-Aqsa, Goldsmiths Student Union and SOAS Student Union.

At the rally Saada from Syria told News Line: ‘The British government has sent troops to Afghanistan to fight extremism but the government are now supporting the extremists in the Middle East.

‘In our country they are cutting bodies into pieces – why is this?

‘They are trying to deliver democracy using countries that do not have a trace of democracy like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

‘Qatar has bought the World Cup and they are buying the UK.

‘They want to destroy the Syrian nation – no-one has focussed on the demonstrations of millions of people in Syria from cities all over the country in support of President Assad.

‘We are a country of 24 million and millions came out in support of the president – they want to make civil war in our country.

‘There are many minorities in Syria who are in danger – Druze, Allawites, and Christians.

‘Look at the way the extremists killed Gadaffi – like an animal – they are not human – they even dug up the grave of his mother.’

Another protestor Mohamed Hussain said: ‘I am here to show solidarity with the people of Iran; the western powers are only after Iran’s natural resources.

‘They need to stop supporting dictatorships and be more democratic themselves.’

Speaking from the platform Shadia Edwards-Dushsti, a student from the School of Oriental and African Studies said: ‘There is a relentless campaign to control the world through lies and propaganda.

‘The UK pretends to be for liberation but this is the modern form of colonialism.

‘We remember President Bush’s “Operation Freedom” as a war to conquer Iraq.

‘I want this government to stop stealing from my pocket – tuition fees for my education and pension from my grandmother.

‘They are spending millions of pounds on soldiers and bullets for war. I want more spent on school meals and education.

‘What is democratic about authorising the use of plastic bullets against students demonstrating about tuition fees?

‘US President Obama pledged to close down Guantanamo Bay prison by 2010 – his promise is shown to be absolutely worthless.’

Also speaking from the platform was Sarah Colborne, who was on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara when it was attacked by Israeli forces in 2009, killing nine passengers.

She told the rally: ‘Israel and the west don’t agree with democratic elections in Palestine.

‘In the last month four Palestinian MPs have been abducted, two of them from the offices of the Red Cross’.

‘Last year the US gave Israel $3bn of military aid.

‘They have a stockpile of weapons in Israel of a billion dollars.’

Another platform speaker Shiran Shafaie told the rally: ‘What country has the most nuclear weapons – the US and they want us to believe they are for human rights.

‘No sanctions on Iran and Syria.’

At the rally, SOAS student Samantha Asumadu said: ‘I am working on an Iranian cultural festival to show the truth about Iran.

‘It will be held on the Iranian New Year on March 21 at SOAS.

‘There have been decades of demonisation of Iran in the media, with Israel being the main architect.

‘Foreign Secretary William Hague’s speech this week was mendacious; he didn’t say that Iran was allowing IAEA inspectors into Iran.’

Syrians at the rally were angry that there were no speakers from Syria on the platform.

Reehab Najjar told News Line: ‘We have heard speakers about Iran, about Iraq, about Palestine and about Egypt and when we asked if we could speak about Syria they wouldn’t allow it.

‘We came here to support Syria and to send a message to Obama to stop interfering in our country and to stop supporting terrorism and stop the weapons coming through the border.

‘We started shouting to show that we are here and that we are millions in Syria and then they got worried and a steward asked us to take our flag down with the picture of President Assad.

‘I said no – not until everyone else takes their flags down, so he went off.

‘Only two weeks ago after our protest outside the BBC Arabic News Service we were attacked, by up to 20 men. We were mostly women and children, but we fought back and they ran off.’

Issa Chaer from the Syrian Social club said: ‘We are here to highlight that agents of the US, Europe, Qatar and the Saudi regime are blatantly intervening in the affairs of Syria.

‘The Syrian people want dialogue and peace and are able to sort out their problems for themselves.

‘We were unable to address this rally today to put this message across.’

• A group of Iranian students have protested at the UN nuclear agency’s silence on the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, upon the arrival of the UN body’s delegation in Tehran.

A high-ranking delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), headed by IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts and the agency’s number two Rafael Grossi, arrived in Tehran on Sunday upon an invitation by the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI).

The protesting students gathered at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on Sunday, holding posters with the photographs of assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists and banners reading, ‘Nuclear energy is our right’.

The demonstrators protested at the political approaches of the IAEA, and the agency’s failure to condemn the assassinations of Iranian scientists.