A World Socialist Web Site campaign team spoke to workers and young people at Saturday’s rally in London, England, called in opposition to the war in Syria. Although the main aim of the Stop the War Coalition, the organization that called the rally, is to channel popular anti-war sentiment behind the Labour Party, workers and students who attended the rally gave voice to the broadly-felt popular opposition to imperialist intervention in the Middle East.
WSWS reporters gave out hundreds of copies of the WSWS article “The new imperialist carve-up of the Middle East” at the demonstration and sold copies of the International Committee of the Fourth International’s statement, “Socialism and the Fight Against War”.
Sawana, a philosophy and English student at Sussex University, said, “I am taking part in this protest today because of the government actions in Syria are going to kill civilians. I don’t think this has anything to do with combating terrorism as they claim.”
Jennifer said, “I can’t believe anyone in the West believes what the governments are saying about Syria now. I know as a fact that David Cameron claimed groups like ISIS … were freedom fighters. Because they said that the Assad regime had to be deposed.
“They did a similar thing with the Taliban before that. All the training organisations for the Taliban were equipped, run and funded by the American CIA. It’s only a few years ago that the western media were… describing the people who are now the members of ISIS or ISIL as freedom fighters.
“People in Syria are suffering from all these wars. They are exactly like us. Bombing Syria is not going to prevent any trouble in the Middle East. It will merely result in a permanent system of instability as happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and all the other countries destabilised by Western imperial interventions.
“There is a massive opposition to war within the British public. They see that the mainstream media are lying to them about Middle Eastern affairs.”
Speaking about the Labour Party leader she said, “I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn has sufficiently opposed this terrible thing being done.”
Owen, a railway worker from Norfolk said, “This is the first march I’ve ever been on. I was on my night duty last night but I thought I should come and take part in this demonstration as I care about what is going on.
“It is going down the road of previous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The outcome of bombing Syria won’t be peace.”
Ali said, “We want David Cameron to leave Syria alone. They should not kill innocent people in Syria. They are not going to these countries to bring peace and stability as they claim. What they are bringing is the threat of a third world war.
“The Western governments say Muslims are bad and Muslims are creating problems. But then why are they killing innocent civilians and invading other countries?”
Tawfeek, originally from Pakistan, said, “I have lived in this country for more than 25 years. Islamophobia is getting very ugly in order to make divisions among the communities.
“It has not being long since the Americans deliberately bombed and killed patients and hospital workers in Kunduz in Afghanistan. How many innocent people have they killed over the last 15 years in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria?
Angela, an occupational therapist working for the National Health Service (NHS), said, “Corporate greed is the ultimate problem and they do not understand the value of human life. It is everyone’s responsibility to act now against war.”
Danielle is a trainee nurse. She said, “One air strike apparently costs £500,000, which would fund 79 student nurse bursaries in London for a full year…. I can’t say why these wars are happening but it’s not for our benefit or the poor Syrian people who are taking the brunt of this.”.
Finbar, who came to the rally from Southampton, said the growth of groups like ISIS was “to do with western policy in the Middle East over the last three decades. If somebody invaded England and did the things we’re doing there, and people are getting bombed, and your family gets killed, you don’t have a job and the economy of your country is destabilised, some people are going to lash out.
“If we keep on putting strain on their economy and dropping bombs on them, we’re not going to take away the problem and their numbers are just going to grow.
“Many of the veterans coming back from war zones have said this sort of thing. We kill some of the extremists, but we go back two weeks later and there are ten times as many. We’re not helping.”
Finbar saw a connection between the austerity programme of the government and vast spending on war. “How many people die because we haven’t got a properly funded National Health Service? How many people die because the fire service doesn’t get there on time? How many people aren’t getting a proper education? If we funded those things instead we would have a healthier society all round.”
Asked what he thought about the millions of people turned into refugees by more than a decade of imperialist wars in the region, Finbar replied, “Those people aren’t choosing to leave their countries. They are being forced to. They’ve run out of options. They’re asking for a way out but the government is denying them that as well.”