Author Topic: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos  (Read 4896 times)

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Offline Simon

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Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« on: January 18, 2009, 06:59:32 pm »
Between 250 and 300 people assembled in Wharf Green in the centre of Swindon yesterday for the largest anti-war protest seen in Swindon since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A handful of hi-viz jacketed symbols of authority, consisting of a mixture of police officers, PCSOs and private inSwindon security guards, kept a watchful eye on proceedings from a distance. They were not needed in the end as the event passed off entirely peacefully.

An assortment of politicians and activists from across the political spectrum addressed the assembly, and were filmed by yours truly in order to show to the people of Gaza (when they have electricity anyway) and the warmongers in the Israeli government that the world is watching them.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/cp/vjVQa1PpcFOlnodcgCfP2tpTU5IduczHbY-QS_-YlHk=" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/cp/vjVQa1PpcFOlnodcgCfP2tpTU5IduczHbY-QS_-YlHk=</a>

Here's 10 minutes of edited highlights for the benefit of anyone with too short an attention span to watch the whole lot:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/37o7V0Ao4z0" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/37o7V0Ao4z0</a>

After around forty minutes of speeches and two minutes of silence for the dead on both sides, the assembly dispersed as peacefully as it had arrived.


What’s coming up?

Stop the War Coalition have called a national demonstration in London for Saturday 24th January, assembling at BBC Broadcasting House for a march to Trafalgar square. Swindon peace activists are investigating transport options for this event. If you would like to join a coach (estimated cost £12 waged or £6 unwaged), or if there is no coach but you would like to travel with other protestors on the train (estimated cost £25 if a little ingenuity is used when buying the ticket) then please PM me or e-mail office [at] swindonstopwar dot org dot uk.

On Tuesday 27th January there will be a fundraising gig at the Beehive pub in Prospect Place, Swindon (behind the old Regents Circus college and up the hill a bit), to raise money for Medical Aid for Palestine. This event starts at 8pm and will feature Dub the Earth, The Sweet Plums, Natasha Griffiths and Stuart Rowe.
We are all in this together, but some of us are more in it than others (with apologies to George Orwell)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2009, 01:06:33 am »
 
 
Good job Simon, thanks  :)

I was a bit surprised to see Anne Snelgrove apparently criticising Israel openly, because she happens to be the convenor for 'Labour Friends Of Israel' 
 
She is steadily improving as a Parliamentarian, so I think you really should watch her again and listen to her very carefully to see if she actually did criticise Israel.....or whether she spoke about something else entirely...

*edit: She did criticise Israel, and she did use the term 'Palestinian state', and she has joined 'Labour friends of Palestine'.  What does it all mean I wonder?....

....but given her apparent hypocrisy regarding her voting to close post offices, could it be that she's just getting better at political fence sitting and hedge betting, or could there actually be a real conscience lurking under the parliamentarian armour?
 
But, at least the Labour Friends Of Israel publish which mp's are members of this lobbying group, it seems the Conservative Friends of Israel are a bit shy...... 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 02:10:16 pm by Geoff Reid »

Offline Simon

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2009, 06:03:11 pm »
I was rather surprised to see Anne Snelgrove there at all.

She is steadily improving as a Parliamentarian, so I think you really should watch her again and listen to her very carefully to see if she actually did criticise Israel.....or whether she spoke about something else entirely...

I've taken the liberty of transcribing her speech.

Quote from: Anne Snelgrove
I'm really delighted to be here this afternoon, to join you in calling for an immediate ceasefire, it's what we've been calling for in the debate in the house of commons this Thursday.

I visited Gaza last march as part of an all-party group to see what was happening in Gaza, it was awful, it was tough then.

We went to Sheefa hospital which is one of the hospitals dealing with the dreadful situation of the wounded and the dying, and when we went to Sheefa, we discovered that a 3 hour power cut at Sheefa would immediately kill 80 children and adults because of the medication they were on.

A 3 day power cut, which wasn't unusual then, would kill another hundred people.

So it isn't just the casualties who are dying or wounded or injured, or have unfortunately died through the attacks from Israel. It's the people who are suffering from kidney problems, premature babies. Normal life is not part of Palestinians' understanding.

So I condemn Israel's action in attacking those innocent children and the innocent people of Palestine who have such a lot to put up with.

One of the tragedies of what we saw last year is that the UN UNWRA building new homes for refugees who were living in very squalid conditions for sixty years. Those new homes will have been destroyed in these incidents, in this war.

But I also condemn the Hamas attacks on Sudarot and Israeli cities, because any attacks on innocent human beings is wrong, and terrorism breeds terrorism. Councillor Montaut said this very eloquently and I agree with him.

I want a 22-state solution for the middle east, that's Israel and all of the Palestinian states [sic] and all the Arab states. They all need to work together to come up with a solution to the middle east conflict.

We need it now, and I promise I will continue to work. I have just joined the newly launched Labour Friends of Palestine and I will work with my colleagues and comrades at the house of commons for peace, and I hope we hear that there is a ceasefire this weekend.

All sounds very good on first listening, but closer scrutiny finds it a bit short on concrete promises, just a rather vague promise to continue working for peace.

I dropped her a line last night via www.WriteToThem.com with a link to the video of her speech and a few very specific questions about what she will/won't be attempting to achieve around this issue. I'll put the answers up here if/when I receive them.
We are all in this together, but some of us are more in it than others (with apologies to George Orwell)

Offline swag

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2009, 07:11:33 pm »
Feel free to visit the Swindon Anarchist Group (SwAG) website for information on Gaza and resistance against the assault.  News includes; the ‘decommissioning’ of the arms factory EDO in Brighton; plans to shut down NATO; the Norwegian train drivers strike for Gaza; Boycott, Disinvest and Sanctions for Palestine; video from Israeli conscientious objectors; Anarchists Against The Wall; and the occupation of Raytheon in Bristol.

For Freedom

For Solidarity

For Mutual Aid

For Anarchism

For Revolution

http://swindonanarchistgroup.wordpress.com

Offline Mart

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2009, 09:14:14 pm »
Anarchists against the Wall.

Mmmm.

(There I go again)
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Simon

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2009, 10:28:10 pm »
Anarchists against the Wall.

Mmmm.

(There I go again)

 :2funny: I think I know what's going through your mind Mart, but you're on completely the wrong track.

Anarchists Against the Wall is a group of Israeli anarchists opposed to the great big wall Israel is building around the West Bank, taking numerous deviations to wind its way round the illegal settlements therein, and effectively dividing the West Bank into discontinuous bits. A wall which is illegal under international law according to the International Court of Justice

They have this to say about themselves:

Quote from: Anarchists Against the Wall web site
Who We Are

Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW) is a direct action group that was established in 2003 in response to the construction of the wall Israel is building on Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank. The group works in cooperation with Palestinians in a joint popular struggle against the occupation.

Since its formation, the group has participated in hundreds of demonstrations and direct actions against the wall specifically, and the occupation generally, all over the West Bank. All of AATW's work in Palestine is coordinated through villages' local popular committees and is essentially Palestinian led.

Why We Resist

It is the duty of Israeli citizens to resist immoral policies and actions carried out in our name. We believe that it is possible to do more than demonstrate inside Israel or participate in humanitarian relief actions. Israeli apartheid and occupation isn't going to end by itself - it will end when it becomes ungovernable and unmanageable. It is time to physically oppose the bulldozers, the army and the occupation.

Read more: http://www.awalls.org/about_aatw

Feel free to visit the Swindon Anarchist Group (SwAG) website

I did just that a couple of days ago, and although I read several pages of reports on worthy causes from around the country and around the world, I didn't see much in the way of content related to Swindon. I'm sure a few reports of things other activists are doing in Swindon wouldn't go amiss...
We are all in this together, but some of us are more in it than others (with apologies to George Orwell)

Offline Simon

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2009, 09:56:54 pm »
I've just had an e-mail from the nice people at www.WriteToThem.com asking me if my MP had replied to my letter.

I dropped her a line last night via www.WriteToThem.com with a link to the video of her speech and a few very specific questions about what she will/won't be attempting to achieve around this issue. I'll put the answers up here if/when I receive them.

Yes, I sent the following e-mail (via writetothem.com) to Anne Snelgrove, and no I haven't had an answer yet.

Quote from: my e-mail to Anne Snelgrove
Dear Anne Snelgrove,

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see you at yesterday's protest in Wharf Green against the massacre in Gaza, and also to hear that you'd joined the Labour Friends of Palestine group. I do hope that you will turn your words from yesterday into actions.

You may have noticed me near the front of the rally with my video camera. A video of your speech is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuHoifDHdUw which you are welcome to use as you see fit.

Will you be calling for the UK ambassador to Israel to be recalled, and for the Israeli ambassador to the UK to be expelled?

Will you be calling for an embargo on arms exports to Israel?

Will you be calling for the Israeli government and all other governments (including the UK) to recognise Hamas as a democratically elected government, and to include them in negotiations for a peaceful and just settlement to the Israel/Palestine issue?

Will you be calling for a cancellation of the proposed upgrade to the EU-Israel trade agreement, or even a complete cancellation of the agreement?

I would like to think that your answer to each of the above questions is "yes", but either way, I would like to know your reasons for your answer.

Thank you once again for supporting this event.

Yours sincerely,

I thought it would be a bit much to expect a "yes" to all of those questions, but surely at least a reply would have been in order, even if it was a mixture of "yes", "no", reasons for the yeses and noes, and some paraphrasing of "my career prospects are more important than the opinions of proles such as yourself"...?

But no reply at all, even when we appear to be on the same side.....?

 :argh:
We are all in this together, but some of us are more in it than others (with apologies to George Orwell)

Offline Mart

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2009, 10:17:36 pm »
Get a grip man.

This is the creature that voted for Post Office closures then trundled back as fast as her little leggies would carry her and gurned for the camera to keep her local one open.

This is the creature who obeys without question the man who says that British jobs will be for British people, we know he didn't mean that, well, we do now.

No, Anti Israeli stuff is all a bit yesterday, a bit Farepack, she's moved on and you didn't even get a 'Dear John'.

What you want is a principled politician or a Hertz RentaLord.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2009, 12:06:05 am »

But no reply at all, even when we appear to be on the same side.....?
 :argh:

You've partially answered your own question Simon.

Quote
we appear to be on the same side

As Mart illustrates with the post office example.  Annie has no problem appearing to be on anyones side.

But we all know that appearances are often deceptive.


Offline Simon

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 09:30:56 pm »
But no reply at all,

I spoke too soon. This dropped through my letter box today

Quote from: Anne Snelgrove
Thank you for writing to me regarding Gaza and for your kind words about my speech to the rally in Wharf Green. I warmly welcome the suggestions you have made to me regarding future courses of action. I will consider these, but as you might understand I want to coordinate the action I take with Labour Friends of Palestine and likeminded colleagues in Parliament.

In November, before the current conflict began, I spoke in the House of Commons chamber asking David Miliband about Egypt's role in the middle east peace process and what discussions has he had with the Egyptian Government on negotiating an extension to the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Now, of course, it is even more pressing that a lasting ceasefire is brokered, and that aid be allowed into Gaza - that is my priority.

In the mean time I enclose a letter from Douglas Alexander which you are welcome to circulate.

Decidedly non-committal I think you'll agree. I wonder how much of this is because she is member of both Labour Friends of Palestine and Labour Friends of Israel, and how much is because she's probably expecting me to reproduce her letter here on TS.

Anyway, her priority is that aid be allowed into Gaza? Yes, that's very important at the moment, but IMHO it's more important in the long term to bring about a situation whereby Gaza doesn't need any aid, and Ms Snelgrove doesn't mention this at all. More about this in a bit.

But first, at risk of being taken for an unpaid press officer for Little London Street, here is the enclosed letter.

Quote from: Douglas Alexander, Department for International Development
Dear Colleague,

I wanted to make sure that you have the information that you need on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, as I know many of you will be meeting with community leaders and speaking at mosques in your constituencies over the weekend.

Today I met with charities and Non-Governmental Organisations to brief them on the current situation and to discuss their plans for providing on-going humanitarian relief. The meeting included the British Red Cross, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, CAFOD, the Disasters and Emergencies Committee, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Islamic Relief UK, Medical Aid for Palestinians, the Mines Advisory Group, Mercy Corps, Merlin, Muslim Aid, Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK, the Welfare Association and World Vision UK. I hope that I will soon be able to allocate funding to those charities and NGOs which have the most effective plans to deliver humanitarian assistance on the ground.

I have also taken this opportunity to express the continuing concerns of the UK Government in media interviews with Al-Jazeera, Muslim News, Al Arabiya MBC TV, ARY One World, Islamic Republic News Agency, Asharq al-Aswat, Al-Quds al-Arabi, Nahdat Mist and the Jewish Chronicle.

I explained that our relief at the ceasefire is matched by our distress that it has taken so long to achieve. The death of over a thousand people stand testament to the scale and duration of the conflict. Our position has been unequivocal in calling for an immediate, permanent and fully respected ceasefire. We all hope that the ceasefire will hold and that a political solution will be found, but in the meantime, it is clear that the humanitarian situation will be dire for some time to come. Around 100,000 people have left their homes, and over 50,000 people are sheltering in 50 UN emergency shelters.

I know that many of your constituents will want to provide help towards the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The booklet 'Disasters and Emergencies Overseas: How You Can Help', published by DFID in partnership with the Disasters and Emergencies Committee (DEC), informs the public how DFID and other organisations respond to major disasters and what they can do to help save the lives of people in an international emergency. The booklet can be accessed at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/emergencies/default.asp

DEC have today launched a fundraising appeal at http://www.dec.org.uk

On Sunday, I announced £20 million to fund humanitarian assistance, in addition to the $6.8 million I committed on 31st December. Since my announcement on Sunday, funding has already been allocated as follows:

  • £4 million has been allocated to the International Committee for the Red Cross to help deliver medical supplies, and support evacuation of the wounded to Egypt.
  • £1 million has been allocated to the World Food Programme to coordinate the relief effort - setting up staging areas in Egypt and Israel and negotiating transfer of humanitarian goods into Gaza with the Egyptian / Israeli authorities.
  • £1 million has been allocated for the UN's Humanitarian Emergency Response Fund to enable the UN's local Humanitarian Coordinator to quickly allocate funds to emerging priorities.
  • £4 milion has been allocated for the UNRWA's Gaza appeal. The appeal will help UNWRA feed 550,000 people, provide shelter for those who have been displaced, provide cash assistance for up to 2,500 families, and provide fuel to maintain essential public services.

Preparations are also underway for three UK armoured vehicles to be airlifted to Israel to be used by UN agencies for initial assessments and delivery of aid.

As well as organising support to hospitals, we are funding the International Committee for the Red Cross to help ensure co-ordination of ambulance movement to evacuate wounded children to Egypt.

We are also funding the UN Mines Advisory Service to start this week on work to clear unexploded ordinance.

I will ensure that the DIFD website is kept updated with the latest information, available at www.difd.co.uk and I will continue to provide updates through the PLP. If you need any additional information or advice please contact my PPS Kerry McCarthy or my office on 020 7023 1602.

I can't really fault any of the actions outlined by Mr Alexander (although airlifting armoured vehicles to Israel rings a few alarm bells, even if they are for the UN to use).

But where I do find fault is in what is missing.

It's all very well spending £20 million on trying to fix the things that have been broken by an act of war, but that sort of pales into insignificance when compared to the nearly £1 billion spent annually on subsidising the export of weapons of war, with Israel being one of the customers. Funny the way that when the government in Gaza (yes, that's Hamas, they were elected fair and square, regardless of what you or I might think of them) takes delivery of weapons the media calls it "smuggling" but when the Israeli government takes delivery of weapons they call it "international trade". So...

Quote from: my letter to Anne Snelgrove
Will you be calling for an embargo on arms exports to Israel?

No answer  :(


Consider for a moment Northern Ireland. This has been a disputed land since long before I was born, and since the Irish Republic became independent from the UK early in the 20th century, the six counties of Northern Ireland have been the subject of a heated, and often violent, struggle between two groups; those who consider it to be part of Ireland and those who consider it to be part of the UK. During this time, paramilitaries / terrorists on both sides killed a lot of innocent people, and the UK armed forces also killed people whose guilt was at best questionable.

I'm not going to go into the Northern Ireland situation in depth, except to say that in the last decade the situation there has improved considerably. I'm not saying that all is rosy in Northern Ireland, there are still many issues to be resolved. But most of the paramilitary / terrorist groups have put down their weapons and their causes are being argued in a NI Assembly chamber instead, and no innocents are being killed or injured in the process. And (IMHO) the simple reason for this change is that the protagonists started talking to each other, instead of killing each other and anyone else who happened to be in the way. Jaw-jaw instead of war-war. Much more preferable :)

Apply this logic to the Israel / Palestine situation. The Israeli government refuses to acknowledge Hamas as a genuine political entity and elected representative of the Palestinian people, preferring instead to call them a terrorist group. Likewise, I gather that Hamas refuses to acknowledge the existence of Israel. This is what needs to change in order to bring about a lasting peace - the opposing sides need to talk to each other, and in order to do that, they need to recognise each other as being someone to talk to.

There is a small nugget of hope in my heart that Anne Snelgrove might prove to be the key to this solution, being a member of both Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine, that she might be able to get the two sides talking to each other. But seeing as she doesn't really have a track record for deviating from the proscribed government line of the moment, it's only a very small nugget.

Quote from: my letter to Anne Snelgrove
Will you be calling for the Israeli government and all other governments (including the UK) to recognise Hamas as a democratically elected government, and to include them in negotiations for a peaceful and just settlement to the Israel/Palestine issue?

No answer  :(
We are all in this together, but some of us are more in it than others (with apologies to George Orwell)

Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

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Re: Swindon protest for Gaza 17 Jan 2009 – videos
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2009, 10:20:58 pm »
Quote
There is a small nugget of hope in my heart that Anne Snelgrove might prove to be the key to this solution, being a member of both Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine, that she might be able to get the two sides talking to each other. But seeing as she doesn't really have a track record for deviating from the proscribed government line of the moment, it's only a very small nugget

Nice thought however she can't even sort out the problems of Swindon be it regeneration, government grant I think Middle East peace bit beyond her!!

 

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