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Solidarity with prisoners?

> I profoundly disagree with Alan Bates’ statement that “the primary responsibility
> for the suffering of the Iraqi people lies with Saddam Hussein”

This question came up during the 1991 protests against the gulf war. When
some voices claimed that the biggest threat to the middle east was Bush
and Major, this was taken to be some kind of rhetorical figure, not the
literal truth. Leaving aside whether it's true or not, UK sanctions are
killing Iraqis, and we in the UK are in a position to oppose our own
government.  CASI can do nothing at all about Saddam, and in any case
focussing on the 'foreign foe' just takes our eye off the ball - the
cynical 'British interest' of nice cuddly Clare Short, Jack Straw, and all
those other former CND members.

> Finally, please let me state my opposition to “direct action”/ individual acts of
> heroism and sacrifice, a la Andrea Needham’s paint job in Whitehall. My
> opposition is purely tactical. There are no short cuts. Such actions lead the
> most self-sacrificing and militant defenders of the Iraqi people away  from the
> course of mobilising masses of people in peaceful and disciplined protest. 

You're right in a sense - there's nothing bloody marvellous about going to
prison. But if Andrea et al were carrying out 'individual acts', then so
are the pathetically few protesters who stand in Whitehall every monday.
When you look at it this way, the issue doesn;t seen to be one of numbers,
or even effectiveness, but what the public will think.  We can't abandon
people in our movement just because of what the public will think; the
public has already forgotten them. Real campaigns have room for all-comers
- impatient hot-heads who want everything NOW as well as sobre Tony Benn
asking pertinent questions in the House. Criticise by all means, but
give practical support to the prisoners, rather than pretend that we have
nothing to do with them.  

The aguments about peaceful vs. violent will go on; if the stakes are
high, then the most 'peaceful and disciplined' protest will be described
as violent by the media, as any trade unionist knows. In England and
Wales, 12 people standing on one spot can get a very long sentence for

j vernon

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