Irish Anti War Movement

The Election and Protests in Iran

The Election and Protests in Iran

by Dr Farhang Morady

Do anti-war demonstrations achieve anything?

 We Are Many from Amir Amirani on Vimeo.

Do anti-war demonstrations achieve anything?

Two million marched on 15 February 2003 against the Iraq war. The war went ahead and a million people were slaughtered. But the legacy of 2003 is that today many feel that it would be impossible for any government, even one convinced of a case for a just war, to carry the nation with it. Wars corrode our political system. But protest is the engine of democracy.

By Caryl Churchill and Amir Amirani
www.guardian.co.uk
15 February 2010

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SEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY, it was hard to believe how many people were on the streets trying to prevent the Iraq war. There was anger and foreboding, but also a feeling of exhilaration. Surely a march this big would have some effect. As we know, it didn't.

Yet the numbers on that 15 February 2003 march, the biggest demonstration ever held in Britain (joined by more than 10 million people in over 60 countries in what became the largest worldwide demonstration in history), do matter. Because what they pointed to was something unique. For every regular protester, there were a vast number of people who'd never marched before.

So was the protest a failure? Given that we know now that Tony Blair had decided for war, any number of millions might not have deterred him. But the protesters have succeeded in making opposition to war a part of mainstream political debate.

Not just in parliament, where the vote for war was won by only 12 MPs, but in the traditionally conservative press. The Daily Mail pointed to the anti-war demonstrators gathered for Blair's appearance before the Chilcot inquiry, and a poll showing that 80% of people polled thought Blair was lying, to state the country now shared the sentiments of the protesters.

The protest also shattered the myth of political apathy. While whole series of demonstrations have been largely ignored by the media, in a bedrock of growing public disillusionment, even the most unsympathetic could hardly fail to take note of the size of that turnout.

No movements succeed overnight. The civil rights movement in the United States eventually led to the end of segregation, and the Suffragettes in Britain got the vote. In the case of Iraq, as far back as 2002 Barack Obama declared his opposition to the war at a rally in Chicago, just as President Bush and Congress announced their agreement on the joint resolution authorising it. Obama and Hillary Clinton jockeyed for the anti-war position, even if he felt he needed to balance it with supporting a surge in Afghanistan. That was possible because opposition to war has become an accepted part of US political debate.

The effects and lessons of that protest look especially pertinent today. Britain still finds itself in one war wrought in the aftermath of 9/11, and at the weekend the hostilities in Afghanistan intensified. Luckily, Blair is no longer prime minister or – going by what he said 58 times to the Chilcot inquiry – Britain would be well on the path to war with Iran, too. But will people take to the streets again if moves against Iran escalate?

Opposition to war in Iran is widespread even within the establishment. In 2008, Admiral William Fallon, then head of US central command, resigned in part because of his opposition to threats against Iran. Obama was able to make opposition to aggression a main plank of his campaign, even if in practice he has fallen short of his promises. Several Nobel prizewinners, including the Iranian Shirin Ebadi, oppose such an attack, as do the Non-Aligned Movement of more than 100 countries. Numerous polls show nearly 70% of Americans oppose it too.

And the legacy of 2003 is that today, many – on both the right and left – feel that it would be impossible for any government, even one convinced of a case for a just war, to carry the nation with it.

Trust between the people and politicians has broken down, but the demonstrations should give us reasons for hope, not disillusionment. Most major political advances in the UK and abroad have come through protest, whether it is women's rights or civil rights. Wars corrode our political system. But protest is the engine of democracy, and may again be our best, if not only, hope

 

STOP THE WAR COALITION NEWSLETTER No. 1141 15 February 2010

STOP THE WAR COALITION  NEWSLETTER No. 1141   15 February 2010  
Email office@stopwar.org.uk   Tel: 020 7801 2768  
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk   Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:  
1) WHEN THE ENEMY VANISHES - KILL CIVILIANS  
2) YOUR CHANCE TO MEET DAVID MILIBAND ON TOUR 
3) VIDEO: THE DAY THE WORLD SAID NO TO WAR  
4) PROTEST AT JOE GLENTON'S COURT MARTIAL  
5) IF YOU LIVE IN CENTRAL LONDON OR… 
6) SONG OF THE WEEK WITH VIDEO

 
1) WHEN THE ENEMY VANISHES - KILL CIVILIANS

Nato's current offensive in the town of Marjah is being  
portrayed as a low casualty mission in the "good war" to get  
rid of the Taliban.

If you were to believe the news broadcasts, it's already a  
success.

Since the assault was always intended to be as much a 
publicity stunt as serving any military objective, Barack  
Obama and Gordon Brown will certainly be pleased at how the  
media has snapped into line and acted as stenographers for  
Nato press releases.

The truth is, most of the few hundred Taliban fighters in  
Marjah vanished well before the much touted offensive began,  
not being stupid enough to face up to 15,000 of the most  
heavily armed troops on the planet.

Much of what we've seen on the TV screens looks like random  
firing into empty space to give the cameras footage for the  
evening news bulletins.

But with very few enemy to engage it wasn't long -- two days  
in fact-- before tragedy struck when a missile attack looking 
for Taliban to kill managed to slaughter 12 civilians, five of 
them children -- the very people this war was supposedly  
tailored to keep out of harm's way.

The attack on Marjah is no different from the numerous other  
Nato "clear, hold and build" missions -- except in the amount 
of media ballyhoo.

And there's no reason why this should be different in the  
outcome, with the Taliban withdrawing tactically and biding  
its time, before infiltrating back into the town, once the  
overblown Operation Moshtarak, and its accompanying media  
circus, has moved on to some other flashpoint of resistance to 
foreign occupation.

The only reason the invading armies continue fighting a war  
that cannot be won is in the hope that some escape route can  
be found, from Obama and Brown's "war of necessity", which  
will leave in tact the credibility of the Western powers'  
ability to invade other countries with impunity.

The deaths of the 12 civilians this weekend is a brutal  
reminder of the heavy price many Afghans will pay in the  
months and years to come to save the face of those responsible 
for prosecuting a futile and unjustifiable war.

****************************** 
2) YOUR CHANCE TO MEET DAVID MILIBAND ON TOUR

Foreign Secretary David Miliband will be touring Britain in  
the coming weeks, holding Labour Party meetings to discuss  
Britain's foreign policy.

He has been much in the news recently, having failed in his  
protracted attempt to cover up British involvement in 
kidnapping and torturing -- a defining feature of the "war on 
terror".

Britain is long past that era when a minister caught deceiving 
the British public on this scale, would have had to resign.  
All the more reason why everywhere he goes to speak he is met 
by protests over his collusion with torture and his continuing 
advocacy of a war which in the past week alone has seen seven 
British soldiers killed.

Stop the War is asking its local groups to organise protests  
in towns and cities where Miliband is speaking. His first  
meeting is in London this Friday.

DAVID MILIBAND PROTEST 
TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN  
FRIDAY 19 FEBRUARY 6.00PM  
ST PAUL'S CHURCH  
HAMMERSMITH BROADWAY  
LONDON W6

****************************** 
3) VIDEO: THE DAY THE WORLD SAID NO TO WAR

Today is the seventh anniversary of the biggest demonstration 
in history  that took place on 15 February 2003.

A must watch trailer for a feature length documentary, which  
will be both a historical record and a celebration of an  
unforgettable day, is now available on the Stop the War  
website (see http://bit.ly/FeWuS). The film is titled WE ARE  
MANY and the brilliantly directed trailer certainly whets the 
appetite for the film to come.

The filmmaker, Amir Amirani, writing with playwright Caryl  
Churchill in the Guardian, sums up the central theme of the  
film: "The legacy of 2003 is that today many feel that it  
would be impossible for any government, even one convinced of 
a case for a just war, to carry the nation with it. Wars  
corrode our political system. But protest is the engine of  
democracy." (Read here: http://bit.ly/bGRHpA)

It's a lesson drawn by Lindsey German, national convenor of  
Stop the War, who says, "It's still hard to believe how many  
marched, and looking at the pictures now it brings back  
memories which will be with me forever.

"If we had succeeded on that day, the world would have been a 
better and safer place. But that demonstration was not the end 
of the story. We have kept campaigning over Iraq and over  
Afghanistan, Palestine and Iran.

"The warmongers have been disgraced in the public mind but  
still need to be held to account. Most importantly we must  
keep organising to end the existing wars and occupations and  
to stop future ones."

VIDEO: WE ARE MANY: http://bit.ly/FeWuS  
SEE ALSO: http://www.wearemany.tv

****************************** 
4) PROTEST AT JOE GLENTON'S COURT MARTIAL

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, the British Soldier who refused to 
return to Afghanistan, faces court martial on Friday 5 March. 
As a result of his brave public campaigning against the war  
and the support he has received from the anti-war movement,  
the Ministry of Defence has dropped the most serious charge of 
desertion.

However, Joe still faces the possibility of a prison term of  
up to two years and Stop the War is calling a protest at the  
court martial when he appears.

The court martial will be held in Colchester and Stop the War 
is asking its supporters to publicise the protest as widely as 
possible.

Anyone wishing to join us and who requires transport from  
outside London should contact our national office: Call 020  
7801 2768 or email office@stopwar.org.uk.

Protest To Defend Joe Glenton 
9.30am Friday 5 March 
The Military Court Centre  
Merville Barracks  
Off Butt Rd  
Colchester CO2 7UT

FOR UPDATES ON JOE'S CASE SEE: http://bit.ly/2vHCKR

****************************** 
5) IF YOU LIVE IN CENTRAL LONDON OR…

Stop the War has numerous local groups across the country and 
covering most areas of London. A Stop the War supporter in  
central London is planning to set up a group and urges anyone 
who lives there and would like to get involved to contact her 
through our national office.

If there is no local Stop the War group where you live, or in 
the college where you study, and you would like to set one up 
, the national office can provide advice, resources, speakers 
for meetings etc.

STOP THE WAR NATIONAL OFFICE: 
Call 020 7801 2768 or email office@stopwar.org.uk.

****************************** 
6) SONG OF THE WEEK WITH VIDEO

This week's anti-war song of the week is a new version of 19  
by Paul Hardcastle, an anti-war track selling in its millions 
in the 1980's. Paul says: "The similarities between Vietnam  
and Afghanistan are quite alarming." Here the song with video 
here: http://bit.ly/bXD59p

 

If Obama lied, will thousands die?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(AFP) Obama will request $320bn of war funding in the next two years for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Not only will I end the ongoing wars around the world, but a mindset of government by fear and of fear is not a very good advisor." --Then-Senator Barack Obama, February 21, 2008 (1)

(1) Obama, Barack. American Bank Center, February 21, 2008.

Full Story>>>

 

SHELL - A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAR

Shell to Sea activist jailed for protests
TOM SHIEL in Castl
ebar

A CO Mayo fisherman who was the leader of a group of Shell to Sea protesters who surrounded and intimidated four gardaí in an unmarked vehicle was sentenced to seven months in prison yesterday.

Judge Raymond Groarke, at a sitting of the Circuit Criminal Court in Castlebar, told Patrick O’Donnell (52), Shore Road, Porturlin, Ballina, that he was a “thug” and “a bully”.

Garda evidence was given to the court that the four gardaí had been monitoring a Shell to Sea protest cavalcade in Erris on September 14th, 2008 when they were surrounded in their vehicle by a large group of activists.

They included O’Donnell and three others – Kevin Moran (50), a machine driver from Glenamoy; Tony King (65), a sheep farmer from Aughoose, and Martin McDonnell (46) from Glenamoy.

Garda Seán McHale told Judge Groarke he and his colleagues were trapped in their vehicle at Doolough, Geesala, while the group hurled abuse. O’Donnell tried to open the car door and asked him to hand over a video camera, which was not being used. Garda McHale refused to give him the camera.

Judge Groarke said the gardaí had effectively been set upon by a large group of people in a most cowardly fashion and that O’Donnell was clearly the leader of that group.

O’Donnell was given a three-month prison sentence for his part in the incidents at Doolough, when the matter came up at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Castlebar yesterday.

McDonnell was fined €500 and sentenced to four months in prison. The prison term was suspended on the grounds that he sign a bond and keep the peace for two years. Moran and King were fined €500 each.

O’Donnell was sentenced to a further three months, to run consecutively, for a breach of public order at Glengad beach on September 13th, 2008.

Judge Groarke dealt with a number of other District Court Appeals relating to Shell to Sea cases yesterday including that of Niall Harnett (44), a native of Co Clare who has been living in north Mayo for the past few years.

Harnett was described in court as “a full-time protester”. He was convicted yesterday of assaulting Garda Hugh Egan at Glengad beach, where gas from the Corrib field is due to come ashore.

Mr Harnett, who gave an undertaking to uphold the law in future and apologised in court to Garda Egan, is to be assessed for 240 hours of community service in lieu of spending six months in prison.

The Probation Services are to compile a report on Harnett’s suitability for community service. The matter was adjourned to April.

Prominent Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington, who was convicted by Judge Groarke yesterday of obstructing a gate with her car at the Shell compound in Glengad on August 13th, 2008, will be sentenced tomorrow.

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