Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hundreds Protest in Bradford Over US Drone Attacks in Pakistan

George Galloway addressing the protest

George Galloway addressing the protest

Around 400 people protested against ongoing US drone attacks in North West Pakistan on Friday, 14th Septmber. Over the past few years thousands have died from such attacks with many of whom being civilians.

Despite being organised by the Bradford Global Justice Movement, it was clear the main movers behind the protest were the Respect Party, with Green Party convert Dawud Islam chairing the rally, and local MP George Galloway being the main speaker. This comes after a series of other protests and movements in the city which have been inspired directly and indirectly by Respects electoral gains in the city.

Speakers at the rally took up a wide range of issues with Dawud Islam criticising the Obama regime who are responsible for around three times as many drone attacks as there were under Bush.

Sarah Cartin, vice chair of CND, pointed out that the UK government itself is spending £500m on drones in Afghanistan. Yvonne Ridley explained how the drone attacks have led to increased recruitment to groups like the Taliban.

An advert for the protest

An advert for the protest

Imran Khan, the former cricketer turned politician, who plans to lead a march against the drone attacks through Waziristan, one of the areas hit most severely by the attacks. Whilst this was plugged, he was introduced as the chairman of the PTI (Movement for Justice), a populist nationalist party that he founded and was a former MP for.

George Galloway MP was the final speaker. Before talking about the issues at hand he launched into a tirade against his recent critics including calling for a boycott of the local Telegraph and Argus newspaper.

After that he quite correctly pointed out that the recent attacks on US embassies where not just a product of a film that was “a filthy, dirty attack on 2.2bn muslims around the world” but also about the imperialist policies that the US government carries out throughout the middle east and, indeed, the rest of the world.

Galloway called on the Pakistan government to demand the US stops the drone attacks and if ot doesn’t then to expel the US ambassador.

But socialists would go further than this. According to documents released by Wikileaks, top Pakistani army generals have tacitly supported drone strikes and in 2008 even asked the US to increase them. We’ve also seen this week the horrible deaths in a fire of hundreds of factory workers where profit mongering bosses skimped on safety measures.

The tops of Pakistani society preside over a rampant capitalist nightmare in Pakistan and are also tied by a thousand threads to the US imperialists. A mass movement of the Pakistani working class and peasantry would be needed to force out of power these props of capitalism and US imperialism, taking into public ownership the big monopolies and running them in the interests of workers and the poor rather than profit. A socialist Pakistan as part of a socialist world would be necessary to end war abd terror in the region for good.

Iain Dalton

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Bradford Protest Over Galloway’s Offensive Remarks About Rape

On Saturday, 1st September around 100 men and women gathered in Bradford city centre to protest over, Respect MP for Bradford West, George Galloway’s, ridiculous and offensive comments about rape.

In a recent podcast about the current allegations against Julian Assange, Galloway said that: “even if the allegations made by these two women… were 100% true… they don’t constitute rape.” He describes the allegations as no more than “bad sexual etiquette.” If you “go to bed” with someone then you are in “the sex game” with them and he says that you should not need “to be asked prior to each insertion”.

Galloway’s remarks, rightly, almost immediately sparked outrage across the country both outside and inside his party, Respect. Salma Yaqoob, leader of Respect said his remarks were “deeply disappointing and wrong.” Despite this condemnation from his own party Galloway has yet to apologise for his comments.

Due to this the activists involved in Bradford About Consent organised this protest in order to show Galloway the anger his words had sparked amongst his constituents, to try and put pressure on him to give a full apology as well as educate people about the realities of rape and sexual assault in this country.

The protestors also used this opportunity to argue against groups like the EDL using rape of woman to further their own agenda, rightly calling out attempts to frame rape and sexual assault as something emblematic of certain races or religions.

Unfortunately, despite this, the speakers tried to discourage any attempts to link these issues with the current political situation. This was partly due to early accusations that this was a Labour Party fronted protest leading to organisers to declare the protest had no political affiliation: outright banning any kind of political banners or placards.

The speakers also avoided commenting on Galloway’s ableist ‘window lickers’ tweet, despite a number of protestors showing up with placards about this; if these movements united fully they would have placed much, much more pressure on Galloway.

This led the protest to lack a clear forward direction to build upon its initial success and push forward the fight against sexual violence. Even if it does pressure Galloway into an apology, his comments are a drop in an ocean of rape apologism:  other politicians and even comedians, such as Jimmy Carr, have been in the news recently for similar comments or jokes. Galloway, or any of these other individuals, apologising would be a positive step as it would highlight how unacceptable such remarks are, but that alone will not end rape and sexual assault.

That will take a united movement with political direction: fighting the cuts, many of which are making women feel more at risk on the streets (such as turning street lights off to save money), and putting forward a political alternative to the parties making these cuts. We need a united campaign of women and men, trade unions and the working class actively fighting back against sexual violence and sexism in all its forms, as well as fighting for real change to the current system that is allowing sexism to flourish, for these issues to ever become a thing of the past.

Michael Johnson, Leeds City & Bradford Socialist Party