Tuesday, 8 June 2010

By George Connelly, Glasgow Stop the War Coalition

Thousands of people took to the streets of Edinburgh on Saturday in disgust at Israel’s murder of the Gaza flotilla peace activists.
Led by an End The Siege Of Gaza banner, around 5000 demonstrators marched to the US embassy and then to First Minister Alex Salmond’s official residence, twice passing through the city’s main shopping route.
Protesters chanted “Victory to the intifada” and “In our thousands and our millions, we are all Palestinians”, drawing crowds of shoppers who stood cheering and clapping. Many people joined the protest as it passed.
Several hundred people symbolically blockaded the entrance to Israeli goods retailer Marks & Spencer, with a chant of “Boycott; sanctions; free Palestine!” ringing out.
This was soon followed by a short rally outside Salmond’s Bute House residence.
A letter was delivered demanding that the Scottish Government breaks its relationship with Israel, and pressures the UK government to stop selling weapons to the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East.
From the steps of the house, Glasgow MSP Sandra White said every local authority in Scotland must now refuse to stock any Israeli goods and end all relations with the country.
The demonstration made its way to The Mound precinct for the main rally – but not before staging a sit-down in Princes Street, blocking traffic in one direction.
People linked arms and sang: “Gaza, Gaza don’t you cry, we will never let you die.”
Leading campaigners, trade unionists and politicians made short speeches at the closing rally, co-chaired by STUC deputy secretary Dave Moxham and Scottish Friends of Palestine's Waelid Shawish.
Edinburgh postal worker Theresa McDermott, who was part of the flotilla, described the brutality of the Israeli soldiers who boarded her 25-foot motor yacht, and how hyped up they seemed.
At least 20 commandos stormed the boat of just 10 women and five men, among them a female ex-US military colonel, two Australian journalists, and five crew.
The commandos used stun guns at point-blank range. One of them fired a round straight at the face of a female aid worker.
After being arrested, “for illegally entering Israel”, the aid workers were held from 4.30am in the morning to 5pm that night without food or water, five hours of which were in a “meat wagon” in the baking heat.Theresa said all of them were harassed and intimidated by Israelis in the airport while they were about to be deported. Badly injured people were forced to walk through passport control alone, carrying their own medical drips and drainage bags.She added that the experience has made her all the more determined to fight for justice for the Palestinians.
Scottish Fire Brigades Union organiser Jim Malone called for the expulsion of Israeli Zionist trade union Histadrut from the International Federation of Trade Unions, and that a boycott of Israel is launched by workers’ organisations around the world.
“We must take the fight against Zionism into the 21st century,” he said, and pledged that his union will have nothing to do with Israel.
Representatives from the Green party and the Labour party made contributions, including Pauline McNeil MSP, convenor of Scottish Parliament cross-party group on Palestine.
Mark Lazarowicz, Theresa McDermott’s local MP, reiterated the main slogans of the day: “End the siege of Gaza, freedom for Palestine.”
Barry Levine, speaking on behalf of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, said: “No deaths or injuries would have happened on the flotilla if Israel did not attack it. And the aid ships would not even have been needed if Israel was not enforcing an illegal blockade of Gaza.
“More Jews need to stand up and speak up for Palestine.
“More Jews need to help force Israel to end the siege of Gaza.
“Everyone must fight for justice. We need to fight to ensure the land of Palestine is a land for Jews, Christians and Muslims to return to living in peace, in the one country.”
Stop the War Coalition’s Angela McCormick told the crowd that Israel had managed to make the “unbelievable believable” with its premeditated murder of peace activists on aid ships.
To huge cheers, she said: “The Israeli embassy in London should be shut down now.
“Every Israeli diplomat and ambassador must be expelled from Scotland and from the rest of Britain now.
Referring to vague words of condemnation of “violence” from the new Tory-Lib Dem government, what our elected politicians say is not that important. It’s what they do that’s important, she said.
“We need to ask our government ministers: When will you shut down the Israeli embassy?
“When will you expel all the diplomats?
“And when will you place economic and military sanctions on Israel?”

Demonstration called and supported by Pauline McNeil MSP (convenor of Scottish Parliament cross-party group on Palestine), Sandra White MSP, Stop the War Coalition, Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, Scottish Friends of Palestine, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Glasgow Lebanese community, Scottish Afghan Society, Scottish CND, Scottish Green party, Cairde Scotland and many others.

Check out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpFcf6DfsKM and http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncanbrown/sets/72157624210728154/ for images of the demo.

The Sunday Herald newspaper printed Theresa’s account of what happened to her:
Sunday Herald report of the demo:

Other media reports:
Freed Gaza activists arrive back in Scotland:
Scots protest over Palestinian aid convoy killingshttp://news.stv.tv/scotland/180523-fears-for-scots-onboard-palestinian-aid-convoy/


Speeches at Gaza Flotilla demonstration: 5 June 2010

On 5 June 2010, 20,000 protestors marched to the Israeli Embassy in London to protest against Israel's attack on a peaceful flotilla bringing aid to Gaza, shich left nine humanitarian activists dead. Speakers at the demonstration rally included George Galloway, film maker Ken Loach, flotilla survivors Sarah Colborne and Kevin Ovenden, Salma Jaqoob and Caroline Lucas MP. The videos below of speeches at the rally were filmed by Fourman Films. full coverage here www.stopwar.org.uk
Speeches at Gaza Flotilla demonstration, London: 5 June 2010 View here: http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/1927/27/


‘Thistles in the Middle East’

6 pm on June 10th 2010

Glasgow Caledonian University

Space is limited! Register here for your free ticket - http://thistles.eventbrite.com/
Book your free place now for Thistles in the Middle East, a fascinating account of how a 6000km cycle journey from Ireland to Gaza by the Pathways to Palestine team raised awareness and funds for medical shortages in Gaza. The students who completed the epic journey – cycling over 100 miles a day for 42 days – recently gave a short and highly engaging presentation on their journey at the Scottish Parliament and received a fantastic reception. This is a great opportunity to hear and see more about their journey – an event not to be missed! The free event is being sponsored by Glasgow Caledonian University The charity social will be held in the Deeprose Theatre at GCU's city centre campus on Thursday 10th June with further speakers and a short film premier of the epic trip, followed by a drinks reception and photo exhibition of the cyclists’ photos. Photographs will be available to purchase and all proceeds will go to educational scholarships in the Gaza Strip.
Wine and canapés will be served after the event in the Garden Café. To register for free, go here

FULL INFO AT: http://pathwaystopalestine.com/


CONFERENCE ON ISLAMOPHOBIA: REPORT The conference entitled 'Stop Islamophobia: defend the Muslim Community' also took place on 5 June in London, on the morning of the Gaza flotilla demonstration। Despite having to be curtailed to enable people to attend the Gaza protest, over 300 attended, including a large number of Muslims, to hear a range of speakers from trade unions, campaign groups, Muslim organisations and the media, who while examining Islamophobia from different perspectives, were all united in wanting to campaign against it. The final session was chaired by Shamiul Joarder, from Friends of al Aqsa, who made a number of proposals for campaigning nationally and locally and for the setting up of an all-party parliamentary group against Islamophobia, more details to follow when we have them. A statement on Islamophobia was adopted by the conference, and can be downloaded here:
http://tinyurl.com/3x9bnbb Video of speeches at the conference will be available on the Stop the War website soon।

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