Two speakers got the afternoon’s rally off to a start at the art college, beginning with a Socialist Youth member who firstly condemned the attacks of 11th September in America. However, he stated it did not mean the US had a right to use force and it would not bring about justice.
The second speaker, an American citizen, was quick to condemn her government’s actions, stating ‘It’s not a potential disaster, it is a disaster’.
The rally then moved through the city centre, shouting out slogans and getting a varied response from the huge numbers of shoppers, who appeared curious but mainly supportive of the message.
It was a varied mix of anarchists, socialists and individuals who made up the march, all there due to the strength of feeling they felt in witnessing the bombing raids on Afghanistan. Richard, from the AWM, was particularly angry about a report he had read on the numerous injuries being received by Afghans picking up what they thought were food parcels dropped by the Americans but which were actually cluster bombs. The cynicism which many have felt in light of the joint bombing and food drops has strengthened as both are packaged in yellow colouring, hence the deadly mix-up.
Talking about one of the American government’s spokesmen, Richard said: ‘I don’t know what distinguishes him from terrorism’.
Cary was another protestor, along with her 5-month-old daughter Carmen. She was there as she believed, ‘War is not the answer, bombs and missiles are not the answer’, and yet ‘the US government has refused to take part in any form of peaceful negotiation’.
Steve, from the Anarchist Syndicalist Federation said,’ It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that this war is unjust’.
Once at Belfast City Hall, the placards and banners were attached to the gates and more speakers had their say including Sean Smith from the Belfast Trades Council. Although two thousand workers are being laid off at Shorts supposedly in response to the bombings, he says this would have happened anyway. He was particularly concerned with the American B52 planes stopping over in Shannon Airport on their way to Afghanistan, and called upon the workers there to refuse to help them. The crowd applauded this.
After the speakers had finished I spoke briefly to another member of the AWM and asked what else was planned following the success of this rally. Hopefully it won’t be long before a benefit gig is arranged and the silent vigils outside Belfast City Hall continue every Monday at 5 p.m.
Socialist Youth intervened at the march with our banner and distributed a large number of leaflets opposing the war and starting to organise our delegation to the December anti-capitalist demonstartion in Brussels. Shortly after it we gathered for a successful SY meeting which was attended by a number of new people. We shall be back in the city centre every Saturday giving out anti-war leaflets.