Don't Attack Iran Campaign: Reports from around the country
On 28 January 2012 as the drums for war on Iran reached fever pitch, Stop the War Coalition launched the Don't Attack Iran campaign with a rally outside the US Embassy in London. Local Stop the War groups across the country are now organising Don't Attack Iran action and events, some of which are reported below.
Obama and Cameron's state visit to Richmond-Upon-Thames was certainly a surprise for local residents who were able to observe the two statesmen playing with Lego and oil on a Stop the War Coalition stall in Richmond. Anti-war protesters balanced the situation by asking local residents to sign a petition against a war in Iran in the midst of the terrible antics of two of the world's most dangerous leaders.
Jonathan Toye reading his poem 'Poppies' at the first ever vigil in Downham Market by King's Lynn Stop the War on 17 February 2012. Sean Finlay also sang part of 'Blowin' in the Wind by Bob Dylan. William Alderson read 'Telling Stories' and 'Gulf War Photograph'.
On the 11th February 2012, as part of Stop the War’s national Day of Action, the Central London branch ran a stall at St Paul’s LSX camp, by the Info Tent, to raise awareness for the Don’t Attack Iran campaign. The day was also the 33rd anniversary of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the Shah was ousted from power.
We had an absolutely inspiring turnout of 20 activists that day, over half being newcomers to the movement, all concerned at the prospect of another war, and all eager to show their support notwithstanding the bitter cold. Some had come all the way from Surrey and Kent to be with us. Two of the activists were Iranian and spoke of their fear for the safety of their family back home. As unpopular as Ayatollah Khamanei’s regime is, the vast majority of Iranians are united in condemning any Western interference in their country.
We collected names for our petition, chatted to passers by, distributed flyers and ran vox pop interviews. The members of the public we spoke to shared our concern and made clear their opposition to any intervention. Members of the St Paul’s camp came and chatted to us enthusiastically throughout the afternoon.
In Bristol we organised some activities at the last minute to coincide with the StW National Day of Action. About 15 students turned up, we got rid of hundreds of the 'don't attack Iran' leaflets, lots of people signed the petitions on our stall, we painted a banner which read 'don't attack Iraq' with the 'q' crossed out and an 'n' replacing the 'q' which people could also sign with their own messages, a few people took the final leaflet when we ran out and photocopied more to hand out after we had gone, and to top it all off we had a sound system there throughout. We'll be doing it again soon, so what this space
Eight people helped on the stall, five of them were new people who came as a result of email and website info. Despite the extreme cold we attracted a lot of interest, at times people were queueing to sign the petitions.
On Saturday 11 February as part of the National Stop the War Campaign day of action to warn of the danger of an attack on Iran, ten members of North Devon Liberation issued leaflets in Barnstaple High Street with 10 reasons why we should say no to an attack on Iran. They also collected signatures on petitions: one against an attack on Iran and one to get the troops home from Afghanistan. About 400 leaflets were given out and over 50 people signed the petition. At some points there was a queue to sign up. Generally the response was favourable and there was no animosity from the High Street shoppers.
Obama and Cameron's state visit to Richmond-Upon-Thames was certainly a surprise for local residents who were able to observe the two statesmen playing with Lego and oil on a Stop the War Coalition stall in Richmond. Anti-war protestors balanced the situation by asking local residents to sign a petition against a war in Iran in the midst of the terrible antics of two of the world's most dangerous leaders.
To help launch a national campaign against such attacks, Lambeth Stop the War was in Brixton on Saturday 11th February campaigning and talking to local residents. The response to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with the vast majority of people we spoke to against the idea of war with Iran. In just over one hour, we had filled out all of our petition sheets and one of our activists had to return home to collect more. The large map of the Middle East we had with us, marked with US military presence surrounding Iran, received much attention and highlighted the absurdity of castigating Iran as an 'aggressor' nation. Activists with the group also conducted vox pop interviews with members of the public on the Iran question, and we will be releasing a video of the interviews and the day of action on www.lambeth-stopwar.org soon.
Occupy at St Paul's, London
Twenty people came along to help out - new people mainly from the website - we were filming vox pops, petitioning, talking to loads of people. People were very, very concerned.
Fifteen students set up a sound system in the centre of town. Loads of people signed a big Don't Attack Iran banner. We had to go and photocopy more leaflets.
New people joined us on the stall - we had a very good response.
Holloway Road: North London
Black, white, young, old - loads of people were signing. We had overwhelming support.About two people disagreed.
On 13th February, Stop the War in Cambridge hosted a public meeting entitled 'Hands off Iran'. Despite it being a cold damp Monday evening, some 100 people came and heard excellent addresses from George Galloway and Kate Hudson. Both speakers conveyed to us just how wide are the ramifications of any potential attack on Iran; George emphasised among other things how forcefully Iran is likely to retaliate militarily if Israel does strike- this is one of the aspects that seems to get scant coverage in the mainstream media.
A lively discussion ensued although far more people wanted to speak than we were able to accommodate- a good sign, in a way, but obviously frustrating for those who did not get a chance to have their say!
Some 50 people signed an emailing list during the evening and this makes a very substantial addition to the names we have already; it certainly should help us relaunch anti-war campaigning in the Cambridge area after a period when most of us had concentrated our campaigning energies on other (- albeit related) fields (- such as opposition to the cutbacks and Palestine activisim). Iran has been an important galvanising factor in bringing about this rejuvenation.
We shall be holding an AGM on Wednesday 29th February in Friends' Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge at 7:30 pm. We hope this will be our springboard for new activism in our region.
We plan to hold another public meeting in the near future where we will stage a debate on the Arms Industry; we want to get speakers willing to defend the position that the Industry has in the UK economy and elsewhere, and have them opposed by speakers who will argue the case for us weaning ourselves off dependence on arms sales.