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Solidarity Rally on Iraq in Manchester, UK, 18-9-99

Report on Rally, September 18th

Around 60 people attended a rally in Manchester.  The theme of the rally
was; Stop the bombing of Iraq, lift the blockade.  The audience
comprised various Iraqis, local campaigners, interested passers by and
others who had come especially, including a group from Liverpool, People
against Global Imperialism.  The rally, called by Greater Manchester
Coalition Against the Bombings and Sanctions on Iraq, was chaired by the
publicity officer of Oldham NUT, Publicity Officer, Jason Travis and
addressed by various speakers, Hussein from the Iraqi community, Gabriel
Carlyle from 'voices in the wilderness', Rae Street from the Manchester
based national Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, Dick Withecombe from
Greater Manchester Against War in the Balkans, Antonis Partasis, a
member of the AEEU and  campaigner from the Communist League (who help
produce the paper The Militant) who is facing prosecution from Wigan
council for campaigning against the bombing of Iraq for 'illegal
trading' (i.e. selling left wing literature) and Karen Reismann a member
of UNISON from the Socialist Workers' Party.  Apologies were sent from
Kerim Yildiz, from the Kurdish Human Rights Project, who had been trying
to, but in the end couldn't, at the last minute, rearrange a flight to
Strasbourg to prepare evidence for a human rights case there.  The main
theme was highlighting the desperate plight of Iraq's population, from
malnutrition, disease and cancer, with the virtual collapse of
electricity and clean water in many areas further exacerbating dreadful
conditions.  It was argued to general applause that we, the ordinary
working class people of Britain, are the same in our interests as
Iraqis, Kurds, Serbs, Kosovars and that it is in the formation of
international alliances of working class people that there is hope for
maximum pressure for a lasting solution.
The only hitch was that shortly before we were due to start, when
banners had been put up, we were asked to take them down by a council
official with police back up.  Through sensitive negotiation we managed
to 'compromise' that we could keep them up for twenty minutes-
fortunately on his return he told us that he had checked and we were
allowed to hold the demonstration.  The only problem was that this had
meant a slight change of the starting point- most people soon realised
where we were, though a few may have drifted away.  All in all, it was a
success to be built upon and improved.

Greater Manchester Coalition Against the Bombings and Sanctions on Iraq
is a democratic non-exclusionary united front of activists, trades
unionists, antiracists, and others wishing to campaign against the
onslaught against the Iraqi people.  We aim to make links and contacts
with other organisations, both community and trades union grassroots,
within the UK, Europe, the US, the Middle East and beyond to help set up
a network of information about campaigning around this issue.  We also
have close links with campaigners against war in the Balkans and other
solidarity campaigns such as Kurdistan solidarity.

Jason Travis
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