‘Tony Blair and Gordon Brown should be tried as war criminals,’ Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun was killed in Iraq in 2003, told a press conference on Monday.
Military families who have loved ones who have died or are currently serving in Afghanistan, together with former soldiers, had travelled from across the country to urge Gordon Brown to bring the troops home.
They held a press conference before delivering a petition at 5pm to Downing Street, signed by tens of thousands who believe like them that the war in Afghanistan is futile.
The meeting room at 1, Parliament Square was arranged by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.
Lindsay German of Stop the War coalition introduced the speakers.
First was Graham Knight, whose son was killed in Afghanistan.
He told reporters: ‘This government has taken us into two wars, unprepared, underfunded and under false pretenses.
‘The American people have been told that we will be hunting the Taleban and al Qaeda for months.
‘Over 240 British troops have been killed.
We want the troops out now.’
Joan Humphries, grandmother of Kevin Elliot who was killed this year on 31 August, said: ‘I feel very strongly that the war is unjust and we have no chance of winning.
‘No-one has ever beaten the Taleban, it’s a travesty of a war.’
Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun was killed in Iraq in 2003, added: ‘My son died in Iraq.
‘In Afghanistan we’re going the same way as Iraq was run.
‘Every time they give you different reasons.
‘They say it’s war against terror.
‘It’s an unjust war. It’s costing too much money and too many lives.’
Chris Parsons of Stop the War, said: ‘My brother-in-law died in Afghanistan.
‘I don’t want any more to die.
‘I don’t want another 103 to die next year.’
World War II veteran, 82 year old Bertie Lewis, who served in Bomber Command told the media: ‘We went to war against Germany when it attacked helpless countries.
‘They made war on Iraq and they knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.
‘The UN inspectors went in and said so.
‘Everybody knew they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.
‘We fought WWII because Germany attacked helpless countries, but these countries are defenceless.
‘They said they are going to do terrible things to us but they have no weapons.
‘Iraq doesn’t have a navy and it didn’t have much of an air force. These wars are wrong.’
Karla Ellis from Manchester, said: ‘We’re fighting for a politicians’ agenda.
‘But it’s soldiers that are getting killed.
‘I want to save other sisters from having to bury their brother in what seems a pointless, unwinnable, politicians’ war.
‘We want to remind the government of the sacrifices our loved ones have made, and continue to make.’
Kevin Roach, who served in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo, told the news conference: ‘I’m here because I’m not exactly sure what our mission is in Afghanistan.
‘They told us we were going in for Bin Laden.
‘But we haven’t heard much about him.
‘Then they told us it was about opium, but there’s more poppies than ever grown in Afghanistan.
‘Then it was about democracy, yet these just had an election that was a complete fraud.
‘I don’t know why we’re there.’
Jeremy Corbyn interjected: ‘What Kevin says is in line with public opinion.
‘We have no idea why we’re in Afghanistan.
‘In my opinion there should not be this war.’
In answer to questions, Peter Brierley said the families had met with John Chilcot and told him they wanted to know about the lead up to the war in Iraq, and the reason for the decision.
He added: ‘The first evidence proves what we’ve been saying for the past six years.’
Asked whether he thought Blair should be put on trial as a war criminal, Brierley replied: ‘I certainly do and Brown as well,’ to cries of ‘we all believe that’ from the families.
He continued: ‘Brown must have been involved, he was chancellor at the time.
‘He may have been misled, but he’s not misled now (over Afghanistan).
‘Brown said a few weeks ago Britain would withdraw by Christmas.
‘Then it became 2011, then helicopters would arrive in 2012 – are they going to arrive and there’s no-one to fly them?’
Graham Knight added: ‘The Americans sent in 30,000 extra troops.
‘They said they will pull out next year.
‘But Brown said “as long as it takes”.
‘We’re saying Britain should pull out now.
‘We’re being told the reason we’re there is to save lives in this country.
‘Lives are not being lost here, they are being lost over there.’
Chris Parsons interjected: ‘We shouldn’t forget all the blokes coming back injured to Selly Oak, with limbs missing.
‘Their lives are ruined.’
The families were joined by over forty friends and supporters while a delegation of six handed in their petition to 10, Downing Street.
The families, including Stephanie Cowell, whose fiancé is currently serving in Afghanistan, had wanted to all deliver the petition, but the Downing Street police were adamant on keeping the numbers to six.
One of those greeting the delegation as they came out of Downing Street was Terry Gardner.
He told News Line: ‘I’m a former soldier from 7 Signals Regiment in Bosnia.
‘I agreed with that war but this Afghanistan war is a different kettle of fish.
‘It’s a war done on false pretences.
‘As a strategy to defeat terrorism invading another country is just not feasible.
‘It didn’t work in Northern Ireland.
‘The Provisional IRA was able to carry out a mainland terror campaign in the 1980s.
‘The only way the war stopped was the peace process.
‘To go to war to defeat terrorism is overkill, it’s ludicrous.
‘The US and UK have 100,00 troops in Afghanistan. The US has 100,000 troops in Iraq.
‘It seems they are surrounding Iran, ready for another war.
‘I believe this is all down to the oil and mineral wealth in the Caspian Sea.’