“How can it be acceptable for Israel to keep bombing & killing Palestinians in Gaza, including many thousands of children, but not for people to protest peacefully against these crimes?”Hugh Lanning
By Hugh Lanning, Labour & Palestine
They’ve called us thugs. The right-wing media, the Home Secretary, Tory MPs.
I am not a thug. I am a campaigner for peace. And I won’t stop marching until there’s a ceasefire in Gaza.
Every Saturday, we march in our hundreds of thousands. Well over a million people have taken to London’s streets in the past month, demanding an end to the slaughter of innocent Palestinians, the end of occupation, and for peace.
And not just in our capital. We’re out in towns and cities up and down the land. Street stalls, rallies and meetings, in town squares, community centres, church halls. Always, overwhelming peaceful, as the Met police have themselves acknowledged in the face of unacceptable political pressure from Suella Braverman, and now the Justice Secretary.
She says they’re “hate marches”. Yes, we hate – we hate war. We hate regimes that deny the human rights of ordinary people, that operate apartheid systems, that commit genocide. And we hate politicians who support and stoke wars, who refuse to call for an end to the fighting, and who attempt to deny our own democratic freedoms, including the right to protest.
How a peaceful and dignified march for a ceasefire in Gaza on a day when the armistice in WW1 was declared is inflammatory or provocative, only a far-right Home Secretary with her own agenda can explain. Even one of her own colleagues has suggested she is deliberately using dangerous and divisive language about our protests to goad the Prime Minister into sacking her.
How can it be acceptable for Israel to keep bombing and killing Palestinians in Gaza, including many thousands of children, but not for people to protest peacefully against these crimes?
Banning Saturday’s protest, which the Commissioner Mark Rowley is under increasing pressure to do from those voices actively resisting the call for a ceasefire, despite overwhelming public support for that call, will be an assault on the civil liberties of thousands. But it will surely be futile. Braverman’s demonisation of those who march for peace, freedom and equality for Palestinians will be seen to have failed. For people will still take to the streets in overwhelming numbers. And that weight of numbers will tell the government and opposition exactly how we feel.
- This piece was originally published on LabourHub here.
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