‘Hands Off Syria’ – Trade Unions Must Take Action!

Young girls marching past Downing Street chanted ‘Hands off Syria’
Young girls marching past Downing Street chanted ‘Hands off Syria’

OVER 7,000 workers, youth and middle class protesters shouted Hands off Syria! as they marched in central London to a Stop the War rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

As well as Stop the War Coalition, CND and Green party banners there were University and College Union national, London Region, and City and Islington College banners

Home made banners included Marikana Miners Solidarity Committee and a Gezi supporters banner with the slogan Turkey Stop Warmongering Against Syria.

News Line spoke to a number of the marchers.

University and College Union president Simon Renton who was carrying the union’s national banner, told News Line:

‘I’m here to express the view of our 117,000 members that overseas adventures and the pretence of being a global policeman, cannot be the proper role of a government which is presiding over the destruction of all the advances made by working people since World War II.

‘General strike action will come up at the TUC.

‘It has to be sufficiently supported, we can’t let the government pick off individual trade unions.’

Jennal Amin a psychologist, said: ‘I’m here to support the fact that there should be no military intervention in Syria.

‘I don’t agree with war.

‘Innocent people are already suffering, and war will only make it worse.

‘We’ve already seen what’s happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we don’t want the same thing happening in Syria.

‘The trade unions should take strike action against the Cameron government.

‘That would send a strong message.’

Retired home care worker, Val Collins from Runcorn, told News Line: ‘This is my first protest.

‘I feel our country is wrong. It should wait for the United Nations.

‘It’s not up to us to police the world.

‘Despite Thursday’s vote in parliament, I fear the US will sway Cameron later.

‘I thought, instead of sitting down and doing nothing, I should get out and demonstrate for a worthy cause.

‘The TUC should call a general strike to bring this government down.

‘The TUC used to use its power, and were able to.

‘It’s time they did it again – I’m for socialism.’

Ahmed Kaouri, a Lebanese living in Milton Keynes, said: ‘I’m standing in solidarity with those opposed to military intervention against Syria.

‘Foreign interference in the Middle East is causing frictions and sectarian strife which didn’t exist before.

‘Syria was one of the most peaceful states in the Middle East before all this kicked off.

‘Al Qaeda are being used as a political tool to knock down the Syrian government.

‘They are being funded by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US to do whatever is in their power to overthrow the Assad government.

‘The media propaganda is blaming what these terrorists do on the Syrian government.

‘You see decapitations taking place and it’s blamed on Assad, but decapitation is an Al Qaeda technique.

‘And Al Qaeda support killing women and children.

‘The US says it opposes Al Qaeda but seems to be using them as a tool to overthrow the Assad regime because it is not Israel-friendly.’

Nadine Jandali, a Syrian designer who was born in and lives in the UK, added: ‘I’m protesting and showing solidarity with the Syrian people and the rest of the world who have had enough of wars based on complete lies.

‘I’m against the endless massacres of innocent people by the Western powers and their allies, and the general terrorists of the world.

‘I think the vote in parliament on Thursday might mean something, but feel if the US want to attack, the UK will just tag along regardless.

‘The British trade unions should take action to bring this government down.

‘But we don’t want it replaced by just another group of power hungry robots.’

Richard from Surrey told News Line: ‘I’m here hopefully to prevent Britain becoming involved in the forthcoming military campaign against Syria.

‘The evidence so far suggests that the Syrian rebels possess chemical weapons as the previous UN report suggested.

‘The UN inspectors said they had concrete suspicions that the Syrian rebels had chemical weapons.

‘The US wants to attack Syria to remove an ally of Iran.

‘It’s embarrassing for them to have recognised the Syrian National Council when the rebel forces are losing the battle on the ground.

‘The unions should take action to stop Britain bombing other countries.’

Sarah Black, who described herself as a full time parent, said: ‘I feel very angry about what’s going on.

‘There’s too many rules who seem to be using countries like pieces on a chess board.

‘They’ve got this globalised capitalist ideology – they don’t like other countries who are economically independent.

‘I feel it was like that with Libya.

‘Huge multinational corporations want to control resources.

‘Under Gadaffi, Libyans had money for schools and hospitals which came from oil revenues.

‘They used the oil revenue to improve life for the Libyan people.

‘(UK Foreign Secretary) Hague seems to be propagandising about Syria.

‘They are giving money to people who we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan.

‘The trade unions should take action to join in the anti-war movement.’

The Americans didn’t like to have the Russians in Afghanistan so they joined up with Al Qaeda and the Saudis.

‘I don’t think you should overthrow a secular system in Syria.

‘A lot of the fighters want to create a Caliphate – most Syrians don’t want that.

‘These fighters come from outside. I wish the Saudis weren’t our allies.’

Richard Pow, a London printer, said: ‘I’m here to stop the US from attacking Syria.

‘I don’t see how it’s going to help Syria and its people.

‘There’s actually not any proof that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian government.

‘I’m glad MPs voted against the war.

‘I don’t like Cameron and Obama’s warmongering.

‘They just point the finger without any proof.

‘They seem to have their own agenda.’

Richard Atkins, a copywriter from Maidstone, added: ‘I was very surprised about the vote in parliament against military action on Syria.

‘But it’s important to emphasise the point against another attempt to rush it through and to oppose the US and France attacking Syria.

‘The trade union movement should take industrial action to stop any military action and to support the Kurds who have been under attack from the Al Nusra terrorists.

‘Thousands of Kurds have fled to northern Iraq.

‘On chemical weapons, if you can’t tell what’s happened you shouldn’t launch a military attack.’

Iranian political refugee, now a UK citizen, Fuad Abdullah said: ‘I’m here because I’m against war and against the military machine of the US’s intervention in Syria.

‘If you don’t stop the US “new world order” policy, the next step will be war on Iran.

‘If they attack Iran, they won’t bomb the government first, they’ll bomb the factories and kill 10,000 skilled workers in Iran.

‘They will attempt to shut down the civilisation in Iran and convert it to the black scenario situation.

‘What will grow will be the gangs of Islamists, pro-US gangs – everything but what is human as we can see what is happening in Iraq and in Libya.

‘I support the struggle for civilisation and the class struggle for socialism.

‘The trade unions are the ones who can stop this war.

‘The working class should turn its face against governments, especially in the US and Britain.’

Islington Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Trafalgar Square rally: ‘The vote on Thursday marked a sea change.

‘We want peace, you don’t get peace by bombing people.

He added: ‘The suffering in Iraq was a result of Bush’s “war on terror”.

He stressed: ‘It is our job to redouble our efforts for peace and to end military intervention.’

Lindsey German of Stop the War claimed ‘the vote was a result of 12 years of anti-war campaigning’.

She said: ‘This war is not about saving lives, it’s about getting control of the region.’

She added: ‘British people are not isolationist. People in this country feel very strongly about what’s happening in the world.

‘The worst humanitarian disaster in this century was the Iraq war.’

Calling for people to demonstrate outside the US embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square on Tuesday, she said the British government ‘doesn’t have money for education and health and they’re taking away people’s benefits, yet they’ve got money for weapons.

‘We’re against Cameron’s war and against his austerity.’