Stop the bombing! Lift the Sanctions

On Saturday, April 17, thousands marched through the streets of London from Hyde Park, pass the American Embassy, to Trafalgar Square led by Dennis Halliday, former UN Assistant General Secretary, George Galloway MP, Tony Benn MP and Arthur Scargill, NUM President, Gen Sec SLP (who gave his apologies that an IMO appointment prevented him from staying to speak to the Rally in Trafalgar Square).

The organisers, having initially called the demonstration to `Stop the war against the peoples of Iraq’, agreed to extend it to include opposition to the NATO attack on Yugoslavia. The reason for this link, and the sentiments of the demonstrators, was most clearly encapsulated by the speech, made from the Rally platform in Trafalgar Square by Harpal Brar on behalf of the Indian Workers Association (GB) which was given a rousing reception. His speech is thus reproduced below.

Harpal Brar (IWAGB)

The imperialist coalition that waged war against Iraq killed a quarter of a million of Iraqis and caused material damage running into billions of dollars. Since the war ended over a million Iraqis have died as a result of the cruel sanctions that are imposed by the so-called United Nations, but as a matter of fact by the United States and Great Britain.

Mrs Albright, the great `humanitarian’ crusader, Secretary of State for the US, was asked on television recently:

“7 thousand Iraqi children are dying each month because of sanctions – Do you think that the price is worth paying?”

She said:

“Yes, it is worth paying”.

These are the same `humanitarians’ who are piling misery upon the Iraqi people, who today are also spreading their `humanitarianism’ in Yugoslavia. A war is being waged by 19 of the richest imperialist countries in the world against tiny Yugoslavia..

Why is this war being waged by Clinton and Tony Blair? They say that they want to prevent a `humanitarian catastrophe’. Comrades, there was no humanitarian catastrophe in Yugoslavia before NATO started bombing. The truth is that before NATO started bombing there were 100,000 Kosovans who were refugees, today there are 800,000 refugees, fleeing the NATO bombing. If they still insist they are acting for the Kosovan people, go and ask the people who were bombed by NATO on the road from Prizren to Djakovica – for which NATO is still refusing to accept responsibility.

We are told we have got a `free’ press. Normally our press is the most docile press you can find anywhere. However, we have one journalist, John Simpson, who refused to obey the orders from Whitehall and the Ministry of Defence, so he is being vilified today. They are telling him that he is guilty of not showing

the “professional standards expected of a newspaper columnist”

. This is a warning to all other journalists – most of them have, of course, fallen in line. `Our’ journalists have been holding the NATO flag and have been cheer-leading the NATO fighters, attack against the people of Yugoslavia.

Comrades, we are told that NATO is waging a war because Milosovec is a Hitler. What was characteristic of Hitler was his regime’s total disregard for international law, crossing other peoples’ boundaries and bombing the hell out of them. That is precisely what the UN was doing against Iraq and is precisely what NATO is doing against Yugoslavia.

What is the real reason for the aggression? Humanitarianism is very low down the agenda of imperialism. There is no humanitarianism for the 4 million Palestinian people, for the 20 million Iraqi people, for the 35 million Kurdish people or for the 200 million Indonesian and Timorese people. The real reason is that the NATO countries want to establish a monopoly of the oil resources stretching from the Middle East to the Caspian Sea. If the Iraqi regime, or the Yugoslavian regime, stand in the way, then imperialism is ready to bomb them.

Comrades, what is our duty? Our duty as working people is to say that it is an imperialist dirty war. We won’t wage war against Iraq. We won’t wage war against Yugoslavia.

If Tony Blair and Bill Clinton want to fight this dirty war, let them go and fight, let them go to Yugoslavia.

We who are socialists have a duty to fight against this war because it is not just a question of humanitarianism. For far too long have the European and American working class stood on the side of their own bourgeoisie at crucial times. If we want socialism we must fight against our own bourgeoisie not against other peoples.