March 2008 marks the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Over 50,000 people rallied in Trafalgar Square to protest the continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the on-going siege of Gaza, and the threats of attack on Iran. As Tony Benn pointed out, on this day in 50 cities around the world, from Puerto Rico to Korea, from Iceland to New Zealand, people gathered to protest the occupation. The protesters were not small isolated groups here and there, but rather one united mass represented the people of the world.
People started gathering at Trafalgar Square at 12 noon. Most of the printed banners were familiar with a few new additions. Palestine Solidarity were represented by their popular "Free Palestine" flag and the newer "End the siege of Gaza" placard, the Stop the War coalition sported their themed "Out of Iraq and Afghanistan" and "Don't attack Iran" placards, with CND having similar messages on theirs. The Green Party had the powerful message "No more blood for oil" on their placards. It was the banners of British Muslim Initiative that perhaps best reflected the dire situation in Gaza with the message "Stop the holocaust in Gaza". This is no idle exaggeration, just two weeks ago the israeli deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai promised the Palestinians a "holocaust" in Gaza, and with the strikes on Gaza it is clear he is keen to keep his promise.
The speeches began 45 minutes later with hosts Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition; Kate Hudson, chair of CND; and Ismael Patel representing the British Muslim Initiative. It commenced with a message by London's popular mayor Ken Livingstone. He talked about the demonisation of the Muslim community, which given than one in three Muslims in the UK lives in London and 1 in 10 Londoners is a Muslim, is an important issue for the mayor of London to address.
Many of the speakers, including Green MEP Caroline Lucas, pointed to the connection between the cut in public services over here and the cost of the on going occupation over there. She also talked of the human rights clause in the EU-Israel Agreement which Israel has breached time and time again without any penalty, this she had repeated on several demos - perhaps the lack of action on this merits its reminder.
Dr Daud Abdullah, a researcher at the Palestine Return Centre as well as of the MCB, spoke passionately about the suffering of the Palestinians in the "holocaust" in Gaza. One month before the israeli promise of a holocaust in Gaza the MCB for the first time participated in the commemoration of Holocaust Day which exclusively focuses on Jewish suffering, denying a mention to non-Jewish victims of genocide for example in Vietnam, Rwanda, Bosnia, Chechnya, the American Indians, and those murdered in the slave trade.
Sami Ramadani, an exile of Saddam's Iraq and opponent of the occupation, spoke of the risks of escalation if Iran is attacked, 10 years down the road it could lead to a world war.
Jenny Tonge spoke of how the world turns a blind eye to any crime Israel chooses to commit.
School Students Against the War were represented by Ryan Ahmed who spoke of the reality of war - an Afghan boy orphaned by the American attack on Kabul had just joined his school. His speech gave us hope in the next generation.
Human right lawyer Louise Christian spoke of Guantanamo Bay reminding us that 300 people are still caged and tortured there and that none of us are innocent bystanders - we all have a responsibility.
Sarah Colborne of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign described Gaza as a war crime and shared harrowing statistics on the situation of the people of Gaza.
Sister Sharif Al-Sharifa was a voice we had not heard before. She is from Hebron in Palestine. She spoke passionately for her people, and described the conflict in terms any one could understand - she wants to live a normal life, be allowed to live in her home, wake up in the morning with her family alive to enjoy the sunshine the day brings, but Israel is stopping her with its occupation of her home and its killing of her people.
Nick Broomfield, director of 'Battle for Haditha', was another face we had not seen before. His suggestion that Bush and Blair should be in the dock for war crimes was welcomed but it was unclear whether he was suggesting that they should be in the dock instead of or with the soldiers already charged with war crimes. The Geneva Convention is clear on the individual responsibility of each soldier not to commit war crimes regardless of his orders - "Bush told me to do it" doesn't wash.
At Parliament Square
Students at University College London are the first to throw the military out of their campus by banning all military recruitment. Its an example which need to be followed by all campuses in the country, it would effectively put an end to the recruitment of new officers. Sam Godwin, the Student Union General Secretary at University College London, spoke at the rally. She explained that in desperation the university had unconstitutionally suspended her and tried to annul the democratic vote of the students banning military recruitment from campus.
George Galloway talked of the "slew of useful idiots that are now being dragged out to prepare the way for the war against the Islamic Republic of Iran" and "the khaki war machine now has its pink contingent" referring to groups like Outrage! who have been previously been caught lying about Iran in order to further their own political aims. During last years Quds Day demo their on-line leaflets opposing Quds Day initially featured a photo of a stoning which the they claimed occurred in Iran. The photo was a fake - they were taken straight of out a fictional dutch movie (De Steen (1994) with the israeli actress Smadar Monsinos playing the role of the stoned woman. When the fake was exposed they came up with new leaflets this time they featured the case of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni whom they described as kids who were executed in Iran for being gay. When Amnesty, Human Right Watch and the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission investigated their claims they discovered that the pair were not kids (at least one was 19) and that they were guilty of kidnapping a young 13 year old boy and raping him at knife point. After speaking with the boys father, Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission conceded "it was not a gay case" and further condemned Tatchell (leader of Outrage!) for his "racially charged language" against Muslims. It was later revealed that the story was planted by the MKO/NCRI - the Iranian dissident group/cult sponsored by Saddam and accused by Human Rights Watch for having tortured its own members and committed atrocities on others including massacring the Kurds on behalf of Saddam. The group, which has been designated a terrorist organisation by both the EU and USA, has been defended by Tatchell who has compared it to the ANC saying it "is no more a terrorist organisation than the African National Congress in South Africa or the anti-Nazi resistance in occupied Europe during World War Two".
Tower Hamlets and Jenin Twinning Campaign
Father and daughter spend a saturday standing for justice "Don't attack Iran"
Galloway also alluded that having failed to stop the invasion of Iraq perhaps it was time for the anti-war movement to change tactics with the run up to a possible attack on Iran "our anti-war movement has been peaceful and lawful, maybe a little too peaceful, maybe a little too lawful.. We need to step up our opposition so that we bring politics as usual in Britain to an end." This clearly struck a cord with the crowds.
Dr Azzam Tamimi also spoke of the need to take action for change. He referred to the political system which doesn't bring any change despite elections as 'liberal hypocrisies'. He also mentioned the book fairs in France and Italy which on the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of a whole nation, they are honouring the criminals who carried out the crime rather than show solidarity with its victims. Many authors who were to be featured in the book fair are furious and have boycotted the book fair.For more information on the book fairs see  and  and  and .
Member of parliament John McDonnell gave an insightful speech on the government. He recalled the run up to war and how his fellow MP's chose ambition over principle and voted with Blair for war. He spoke of our duty to oppose attacks on civil liberties with the vote on detention orders of 42 days coming up - "will not stand to one side when they come to lock us up, and seek to silence us by threats of arrest". He also concluded that the "bizarre" discussions on britishness initiated by the government and echoed by the media were designed to divide us - "we tell them very clearly, we are members of one race - the human race. We are human beings, we have human rights - the same human rights, the same civil liberties what ever area of the planet we occupy. And we tell them we will not be divided". In our opinion it was one of the best speeches of the rally.
baby points to "Free Palestine"
Troops out of Iraq
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, revealed that this year we in Britain spent, through our taxes, 3 billion pounds on the war, this at a time when we are seeing hospitals close due to lack of money. She also mentioned the resignation of the head of US Central Command, Admiral William Fallon, who was a lone voice against attacking Iran, as a ominous sign of impending war.
Billy Hayes, the general secretary of the communication workers union, reiterated the link between cuts here and the cost of war - he advised trade unionists that "when you campaign for more investment in public services you also need to campaign against the waste of lives, and waste of money that's taken place in our name in places like Iraq".
Tony Benn gave perhaps the best speech of the rally, a real gem which no doubt people will ponder over. He said "there is no railway station called peace, your children, and your grandchildren, and their grandchildren are going to have to fight the same battle again and again and again. But at least our campaign will inspire them, just as so many in the past have inspired us."
It was a hard act to follow, and the last speaker of the day Bruce Kent from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament started by graciously describing himself as "the poor mans Tony Benn". He talked about nuclear disarmament, how 185 countries were ready to see the end of all nuclear weapons but one of the obstacle countries was the UK with its Trident system.
It was a good rally with some great speeches, but unfortunately it was slightly marred by 4 or 5 people near the front who spent the whole time heckling the speakers, even throwing bottles and cans at them. We are not sure why the stewards tolerated such abuse directed at the speakers. It seemed that at least some of the same elements that tried to disrupt last years Quds Day demo were involved in this latest incident. Galloway referred to them as 'idiots' we cannot disagree.
After the rally - marching from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall..
.. towards the houses of Parliament
After the rally we marched down Whitehall past Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament and on to Westminster Bridge. After crossing the Thames we continued along the river to Lambeth Bridge and crossed that to head towards Parliament Square. The loop across the two bridges is a distance of around 2 miles. Whilst the tail end of the demo was still joining Westminster Bridge the front of the march had already completed the loop and was seen returning from Lambeth Bridge. The protesters had literally surrounded parliament. At Parliament Square people gathered to hear a few more speeches from the Stop the War podium and other independent makeshift podiums.
Concluding impressions were that is was a good turnout but people are beginning to question the effectiveness of demonstrations on their own when the government and corporate media just ignores them and the war continues unabated. There was a feeling that the momentum is there for more direct forms of action and civil disobedience in order to stop the war machine, indeed many of the speakers reflected these views. The war wont be stopped by demonstrations alone - more is needed.
Full videos and audio are provided below of all the speeches, both streaming and for download with text summaries. The mp3 audio is sorted in to tracks with album art included.
End the criminal siege on Gaza
Freedom for Palestine
World's #1 Terrorist
Bush has tried to justify the war by demonising its opponents especially the Muslim community
Ken Livingstone, message from Mayor of London read out by Kate Hudson of CND(above).
I don't need to tell the people here today that George Bush and those he represents did not go to war for humanitarian motives. He went to war to try and secure control of the resources of the people of the Middle East for the United States. He helped send the price of oil to some of the highest levels in history and brought the US down in a bloody quagmire which has discredited his regime not only in the Middle East, but through out the world.
Bush has tried to justify the war by demonising its opponents especially the Muslim communities in every part of the world. That is why it has been so heartening to see the Muslim community standing together with the peace movement in the forefront of this great anti-war movement. This movement represents the real views of the great majority of Londoners and indeed of the entire worlds population.
On February 29th 2008, the Israeli deputy Defense Minister promised the Palestinians a "holocaust" in Gaza. Matan Vilnai told the Israeli army radio that "the more [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves." The same twisted logic is used by the far-right and Holocaust deniers to blame Jewish people for the Nazi Holocaust.
Earlier in the month another Israeli minister calling for the "total annihilation" of some Gaza neighbourhoods. Me'air Shetrit called for responding to what he termed "sabotaging operations" by "totally annihilating some Gaza neighbourhoods" so that "the residents of the Gaza Strip will understand how serious the Israeli threats are."
As Israel starts to carry out its promise of genocide of the Palestinians the world, by its silence, gives its tacit approval. And the media just falls in line, busying themselves explaining away genocide as an understandable action forced on poor little Israel. Even the liberal Guardian newspaper featured a large photo of a damaged chick factory in Sderot to explain away the articles title "Israeli minister warns of Holocaust for Gaza if violence continues". Even the choice of words in the title - "warns" being used instead of "promises" - is crafted to misdirect readers. Its like the threats of a killer to run children over being presented as road safety advice warning kids to be careful crossing the road! Also the word "violence" is misleading. Two thirds of the people of Gaza are refugees - they have been ethnically cleansed from their homes in Israel and they are denied their right, under international law, to return to their homes in Israel. They are fighting for their right to return to their homes, its disingenuous to describe that as simply "violence".
Five years of public service cuts here to fund an occupation there!
Caroline Lucas, Member of European Parliament (Green Party)
We are here because five terrible years after the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq it is clearer than ever before that the so called global war on terror has been a spectacular failure. And five years of terrible human costs, five years of soldiers killed women raped, children maimed and orphaned, five years of families recked and communities destroyed, five years of public service cuts here to fund an occupation there! So our message to the government is this - you can't bring democracy through the barrel of a gun, you can't bomb your way to peace - bring the troops home now!
Its clear that our political leaders completely fail to understand the anger the Wests hypocrisy and imperialism. Bush, and Blair and Brown say we are hated because of our so-called freedoms. Do they really think it has nothing to do with the massacres of Fallujah, the obscenities of Abu Ghraib that continue today at Guantanamo Bay? Its wonderful that Omar Degayus from Brighton and Jamil al-Banna from London are finally free from Guantanamo, and we celebrate their release, but it is an atrocity that they were ever incarcerated there and it is an outrage that individuals remain there today.
Do our political leaders think it has nothing to do with the ongoing subjugation and humiliation of the Palestinian people day in day out? The siege of Gaza is an outrageous act of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. But you know this country is a signatory to the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and that agreement says that if there are human rights abuses than that agreement should be suspended and yet our government and the EU refuses to suspend it. And so our question to them is this - How many more human rights abuses do you need ? How many more women dying in childbirth because they are not allowed through the checkpoints to get to the hospital do you want? How many more Palestinian people attacked, imprisoned and impoverished does it take? And so we demand and end to the crippling economic blockade [of Gaza], and end to the brutal Israeli occupation and we demand justice for the Palestinians, justice for the people of Iraq, and justice of the people of Afghanistan now!
Holocaust in Gaza.. this morning a Palestinian woman discovered her son in the hospital, she buried another child 10 days ago and this morning she discovered her real son - this is the situation in Gaza - you don't know who is living, you don't know who is dead..
Dr Daud Abdullah, Muslim Council of Britain
Since 1948 Palestine has never witnessed such blood letting, such destruction and plunder as it sees today. Not since the great Nakba of 1948 have we seen such blood letting, and what is worse is that those who carry out these crimes today they call for a bigger holocaust in Gaza, they call for the destruction of the people of Gaza and those who say this have implemented their plan - in the last days of February 130 people were killed - 39 women and 10 children - all within the last 10 days of February. This is a result of their plan to carry out their holocaust in Gaza. We say no to the holocaust in Gaza..
This plan has been endorsed by the Israeli supreme court, it has been endorsed by the United Nations, by the American government and by the governments of Europe - they have all supported it. But what we find most disgraceful is that the Secretary of State of the United States, a former slave, a descendant of a slave, should herself support the siege of Gaza. Those who forget the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto who forgot the crimes of Auschwitz its understandable, but not the descendant of a slave to forget what happened to her for fathers in America. Shame on you Condoleezza Rice.
Dr Daud Abdullah
So we say bring them to justice in the International Court. We support and we welcome the call of the OIC that these criminals should be brought to justice.
Before I left home this morning, a Palestinian woman she discovered her son in the hospital, she buried another child 10 days ago and this morning she discovered her real son - this is the situation in Gaza - you don't know who is living, you don't know who is dead..
So we say your holocaust will not deliver peace for you, your holocaust will not deliver security for you. And it is not just about Hamas, it is not because of Hamas, it is because two thirds of the people in Gaza are refugees and they want to go back to their homes in Israel, this is the reality. So only an end to the siege, only an end to the occupation and an end to ethnic cleansing will bring you security - only the restoration of Palestinian rights, only freedom, dignity and peace for the Palestinians will bring stability to this region.
A Rabbi holding a placard "Stop the Holocaust in Gaza" makes a potent message which can't be ignored
Rabbis of the Neturei Karta - "Zionism is state organized terror"
Rabbis of the Neturei Karta - "Zionism is the cause of Mideast bloodshed"
This conflict could lead to a world war so this peace movement, this protest movement, is really vital
Sami Ramadani, Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
They [US] think they can cow the Iraqi people in to submission, because this is the way they can control and exploit Iraq and the entire region. But they are mistaken, the way they are going is an escalation, they are trying to escalate the war to attack Iran and to attack Syria, to bring mayhem to the world. This conflict in the region could lead 10 years down the road in to a world war, it could drag other powers in to this conflict, so this peace movement, this protest movement is really vital.. we must raise our voices higher..
The way to bring peace is to end the illegal occupation of Palestine
Jenny Tonge, House of Lords (Lib Dem)
The way to bring peace to the middle east and the wider world is not to make war with Iraq, not to attack Iran, not to criticize and lambaste Syria, but to end the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel. Why, why, why is it that Israel is allowed to break international law, defy the Geneva Conventions, abuse the human rights of Palestinians, kill them on a daily basis, and yet no one takes any notice, the world turns a blind eye? It is that, ladies and gentlemen, that has now been compounded by the siege of Gaza, which apparently our government approves of, we will not talk to Hamas the elected government of the Palestinians, and yet we talk to Israel that breaks every law in the book!
"Our" government has been bought by zionist cash A reference to the scandal of the illegal funding of the Labour Party by Israel lobbyists.
I stand here to let George and Gordan know its time to be scared - we the youth of tomorrow will no longer stand aside and allow them to continue!
Ryan Ahmed, School Students Against the War
A boy has just come to my school, he's been here a month, from Afghanistan and his name is Izzatik. He was living in Kabul when the Americans in their infinite wisdom decided to bomb his town. He left behind all the bodies of his entire family, this is just a taster of the carnage the Americans are unleashing on the Iraqi civilians. He now has to live live with a guardian he hardly knows. This we have to stop.
I stand here with the rest of the world to let George and Gordan know its time to be scared because we the youth of tomorrow will no longer stand aside and allow them to continue!
Cambridgeshire National Union of Teachers with its powerful quote from Paulo Freire "Education in never neutral - it either oppresses or liberates" - something for all educators to ponder about, especially in the light of the revelation that the Ministry of Defence is encouraging teachers to lie to kids about the war.
The Resistance Must Live - School Students Against War
Black students campaign
There is no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to torture and abuse!
Louise Christian, Human rights lawyer
Guantanamo Bay was opened 6 years ago, there are still 300 people there and if the gentleman [heckler] doesn't think that's important then I don't know what is. People are being tortured, not just in Guantanamo Bay but in camps in Afghanistan and Iraq where people are held literally for years without charge out of public scrutiny, away from the rule of law. Rendition is occurring, we have now learned that in fact two flights did come to Britain, we are sure that far more flights than this did come to Britain, we know that our politicians are lying to us, they lied to us when they said this war was legal, they are now lying to us about the human rights abuse that are occurring. They have lied to us about the death of Baba Musa, they've lied to us about the abuse that's occurred and they continue to lie to us about torture, rendition and whats happening in Guantanamo Bay.
Close Guantanamo detention and torture camp
We cannot stand by as innocent bystanders, there is no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to torture and abuse - we all have a responsibility..
Guantanamo Bay Camp X-Ray - mock prisoner with ominous sign at the back taken from the lottery advert which we should all think about - "it could be you"
Whats happening in Gaza is a war crime!
Sarah Colborne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Whats happening in Gaza is a war crime. 1.5 million people are living under siege, many are without access to clean water, electricity and fuel. Food and medicines are being blocked by Israel from entering Gaza. People are dying because Israel is denying them permits to leave for essential medical treatment, hospitals can't function properly because they don't have the fuel. 80% of the population are now dependent on food aid, but this food aid only gives them 61% of the nutrition they need. Palestinians are starving in Gaza. Its time for the world to stand up for Palestinian rights. Its time for this government to stand up for Palestinian rights. The Palestinians elect their representatives and our government has to respect their decision!
We just want to live a normal life - we are being stopped by Israel
Sharif Al-Sharifa, from Hebron in Palestine
Talking about war and stopping it isn't enough. Nobody has the right to send our sons or our fathers or our brothers and husbands to death. How can any female manage with losing her partner, or any man loosing his partner, wife, mother, grandmother or his daughter, killed in cold blood, or going to jail just because they are Palestinians..
Please give [allow] our kids and ourselves a home that the next day the sunshine will give us the light for our life, we just want to live a normal life. We just want peace. We are being stopped by Israel which is occupying our land..
Shouldn't it be Bush and Blair who are sitting in the dock?
Nick Broomfield, Director 'Battle for Haditha'
There are various trials happening in the US and in this country of young soldiers being judged for war crimes, but shouldn't it be Blair and Bush - the architects of the war - who should be sitting in the dock? The soldiers I've met joined at the age of 17 and believed they were serving their countries. They looked to their leaders to show them an example of how to behave and how to conduct themselves. But when you have leaders like Bush and Blair who have no regard for the rule of law, who supported the use of torture, who have no respect for things like the Geneva Convention, how can we hold 17 year old soldiers to account for their actions? Shouldn't it be Bush and Blair who are sitting in the dock now?
If students can kick the military off their campus they would have found a way of applying real and direct pressure towards bringing the troops home
Sam Godwin, UCL Student Union General Secretary
Last week students at University College London(UCL) at their annual general meeting of our students union decided to exercise our democratic right and voted to ban military recruitment from all student events. This decision was not made out of any disrespect to soldiers or even the military but in recognition of the fact that if we facilitate recruitment of new officers for these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan our students union would be giving material and moral support to those wars and that was not something we could abide by.
There was an immediate rightwing backlash in the national press and at UCL. Instead of respecting UCL students democratic choice or even using the legitimate democratic means available under the unions constitution to reverse a decision UCL unions management and its sabbatical officers acted without precedence by suspending me from my duty as General Secretary of the union without providing any reason in preparation to unilaterally annul the results of the general meeting. When the majority of students at the committee responsible for interpreting the unions rules tried to refuse and declare my suspension unconstitutional they were told by the sabbatical officer who assumed control of the meeting that they would not be allowed to take a vote. These actions have effectively abolished student control of UCL students union.
To unilaterally annul democratic decisions made by students at their unions highest body, the general meeting, was an act of desperation in the face of what is an effective way for students to take a stand against the war. they knew as we know that if students can kick the military and the officer training corp off their campus they would have found a way of applying real and direct pressure towards bringing the troops home. And if students can do it at a university like UCL they could do it anywhere.
if war is the answer it must be a very stupid question!
Beyond plunder - hands off Iraqi oil
Our anti-war movement has been peaceful and lawful, maybe a little too peaceful, maybe a little too lawful!
George Galloway, Member of Parliament (Respect Party)
The father of a dead soldier just the other week said to me that his son had died with a picture of the queen in his pocket. I had to point out to him that sadly it was very unlikely that she had a picture of him in her pocket or that any minister cared about their sons death, none attended his funeral and if he had come back lame and unemployable the state that sent him to war would have turned their back on him.
So as Andrew said in his introduction, our animus is not to the lions of the British armed forces its to the donkeys in the government and the ministry of defence that sends them to their deaths. A ministry of defence which incidentally appears to be adopting another more expensive roll in the governments of the united kingdom , a ministry of defence which is now supplying our teachers with teaching notes to teach their children lies about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a ministry of defence which can suborn almost the entire British media in a conspiracy of silence over Price Harry, a ministry of defence which is now making sure we have more uniform soldiers on our streets - well I'll go along with that - lets bring all the soldiers home and let them wear their uniforms here in Britain rather than in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world.
The drum beats of war are getting louder. A slew of useful idiots like those at the front, are now being dragged out to prepare the way for the war against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The khaki war machine now has its pink contingent. And the purpose is the same, the purpose is to bamboozle the public to go along with mass murder in Iran. I tell you this, if the bombs begin to fall on Iran they won't discriminate between gay or straight, young or old, pro regime or anti, they will murder Iranians indiscriminately as they murdered Iraqis and Afghans before them!
Our anti-war movement has been peaceful and lawful, maybe a little too peaceful, maybe a little too lawful. We have to rise to this challenge over the summer and in to the autumn as we run up to the United States elections. I tell you this, if they invade Iran, as they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan before it,we need to not just demonstrate. We need to step up our opposition so that we bring politics as usual in Britain to an end!
They hang together - Corporate greed, War, Environmental emergency, and Poverty
Five years ago I was in parliament and I spoke in that debate in the run up to war, I listened to the lies and I watched how the ambition of individual MPs rode over their principles and their judgment and like you I went home and saw the shock and awe of the attack on the innocent Iraqi people. We will never forgive or forget..
John Mcdonnell, Member of Parliament (Labour)
Five years ago I was in parliament and I spoke in that debate in the run up to war, I listened to the lies and I watched how the ambition of individual MPs rode over their principles and their judgment and like you I went home and saw the shock and awe of the attack on the innocent Iraqi people. We will never forgive or forget the role that this government played in unleashing war among the innocents and their tens of thousands that died, and so that's why we are here again - in solidarity. And we will keep turning out until the last British troop is withdrawn from Iraq, Afghanistan, and until the Palestinians secure a just and peaceful settlement.
But our job is also to expose the role of the British war machine across the planet. The British government support for Columbia and its attack on trade unionists and socialists, its attack on Ecuador and its attempt to undermine the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. We stand in solidarity with those in struggle. We expose the role of the British government in stealing the islands of the Chagos islanders for use in rendition and a military base.
But also we stand in opposition to their attacks on civil liberties in this country. In a few weeks time there will be another vote on the detention orders of 42 days, and we need to explain to this government that we will not stand to one side when they come to lock us up, and seek to silence us by threats of arrest. But also they try to divide us with bizarre discussions of britishness. And we tell them very clearly, we are members of one race - the human race. We are human beings, we have human rights - the same human rights, the same civil liberties what ever area of the planet we occupy. And we tell them we will not be divided.
In the 80s we had a slogan on our marches, it came from Latin America and we used it on the Gromley dispute, the miners, and all the way up on every dispute. It was this - 'the workers united will never be defeated'. I tell you now, the workers of this country united internationally with those in struggle standing besides the people in Gaza, standing besides the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Afghanis, the Venezuelans united will never be defeated! Solidarity!
Why should we spend 3 billion pounds a year, this year, on this war alone in Britain when we don't have money for schools and hospitals here?
Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition
Tony Blair who is the Middle East envoy for peace, can you think of anybody less suited for that job accept possibly George W Bush, he has said nothing about the killing of the Palestinians, and now he wants to be the president of the European Union. Well what do we think of him as the president of the European Union - a disaster for everybody in Europe! The only place he should be in Europe is in front of a war crimes tribunal because that is what he deserves.
But this isn't just about the past, its about the future. The stain of this war is spreading. There is war in Somalia which has the biggest refugee problem in the world - you don't hear about that on the television. There has been war in Lebanon, there is war in Afghanistan, and they are threatening to attack Iran. Only this week one of George Bush's admirals resigned because the Americans are again talking about attacking Iran. We have to keep mobilised to make sure that that doesn't happen, but is also have to fight against all these imperialist adventures. Why should we spend 3 billion pounds a year, this year, on this war alone in Britain - twice what it cost last year, when we don't have money for schools and hospitals here and when we've done nothing to reconstruct the we've bombed and attacked..
Rise against this hypocrisy and change it for good!
Dr Azzam Tamimi, Institute of Islamic Political Thought
What about the Palestinians - for 60 years the world leading 'liberal hypocrisies' - and that's what they are - they are not democracies - they are liberal hypocrisies lead by the biggest hypocrisy the United States of America - they feel no pain for the oppressed and the weakened in Palestine..
Look at the french presidency, rather than invite Ismail Haniyeh to open the book fair, the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, they have invited Peres - a war criminal. Look at the hypocrisy of these 'liberal hypocrisies' when for five full days Israel bombarded the Palestinians, from the air, from the sea and from the ground, they did not speak but when one Palestinian out of anger attacked a zionist location in Jerusalem, occupied Jerusalem, everybody was denouncing the Palestinians, everybody was criminalizing the Palestinians! Such hypocrisy!
My friends there is something inherently wrong with the political systems of these regimes, they keep bringing back the hypocrites, hypocrite after hypocrite. Look at Gordon Browne, we were promised that once Blair is gone Gordon Brown will come to correct what Tony Blair did wrong. Gordon Brown is as cowardly as Tony Blair, is as a tail of America as Tony Blair. There is something inherently wrong with the system. Rise against this hypocrisy and change it for good!
When you campaign for more investment in public services you also need to campaign against the waste of lives, and waste of money that's taken place in our name in places like Iraq
Billy Hayes, Gen Sec Communication Workers Union
This week we saw the British government offer 1400 Iraqi refugees the choice of being forced to return to Iraq or to be thrown out of their accommodation and have to beg on the streets. The British government insists its safe to return to Iraq yet the UN high commissioner for refugees says that its not advisable to return to Iraq given the continuing conflict. Of course the British government doesn't really believe it is safe to return to Iraq that's why these refugees who returned as asked to sign a waver absolving the British government from any liability for their safety. Such policies may appease the tabloid press in Britain but it won't solve the problem of Iraq..
And I would say to my comrades in the trade union movement we've been campaigning against this war for five years, when you campaign for more investment in public services you also need to campaign against the waste of lives, and waste of money that's taken place in our name in places like Iraq.
Hetty Bower, aged 102, is the Stop the War Coaltions oldest campaigner
There in every human heart from the beginning of time there have been two flames burning, the flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world. And those two flames are burning in our hearts today, in the hearts and minds of millions of people.
Tony Benn, President Stop the War Coalition
Today in 50 cities around the world people are gathering as we are gathering to call for peace in the Middle East, as far away as Puerto Rico, Korea, Iceland and New Zealand and in eleven American cities people are gathered as we are, and we represent the people of the world - that is an important thing for us to remember - we are not a lot of isolated groups protesting. We are demanding the end of the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, justice for the Palestinian people and no threat to the people of Iran - that's what we are demanding.
On the media:
Now the media have a very good way of dealing with us, its the way the powerful have always tried to deal with the people. First they try to frighten us, used to be Hitler, then it was Stalin, now its the Muslims - they've got to keep us frightened. They've got to keep us divided - men and women, black and white, Christian Muslim Jewish - because divided people are easier to control. They've got to keep us demoralized - because we don't really understand the problems of the world. And the thing about this movement is that it is not frightened of anybody, it is a movement that unites men and women, black and white, Muslim Jew and Christian, and far from being demoralized it is stronger than I have known it for many many years..
..I tell you this, parliament represent the past and the streets represent the future, that is what we should remember!
Something to think about:
There in every human heart from the beginning of time there have been two flames burning, the flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world. And those two flames are burning in our hearts today, in the hearts and minds of millions of people. And all I will tell you to finish is this - there is no railway station called peace, your children, and your grandchildren, and their grandchildren are going to have to fight the same battle again and again and again. But at least our campaign will inspire them, just as so many in the past have inspired us.
A group of Muslims offering midday prayers as people are queuing to leave Trafalgar School for the march
Unity - A Christian prays with a group of Muslims
There is a chance to negotiate the end of all nuclear weapons everywhere, 185 countries want it to happen, but we are the obstacle!
Bruce Kent, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
We spent fortunes on nuclear weapons, we came to nuclear war time and time again, and they have given us a terrible legacy. Now there is a chance to negotiate the end of all nuclear weapons everywhere, its a real opportunity - 185 countries want it to happen, we can make it happen, but we are the obstacle. What we are doing with Trident is actually to perpetuate the nuclear weapon world for a long long time, so come with us when you finish this march to Aldermaston on Monday and get the British government to say we turn our backs on Trident..
"You cannot simplify the question of violence.. You look at human history - the American revolution, the civil war, the end of slavery in the United States, the African National Congress, the end of colonialism - by and large these were some combination of popular social uprisings and social movements and non-violent protests AND armed resistance. Now that doesn't mean I'm advocating for any armed action today, I'm not. I'm committed to finding ways of acting and speaking and making people laugh and doing art and disrupting the war machine in other ways, but I think focusing on violence when we have the comfort of being protected by mass of armed violence is not non-violence at all.. if you are pointing to the mass of violence and who's doing the mass of violence in the world today, you have to look to state violence - that's people bombing whole cities from the air.. "