Rally for Aleppo: Show solidarity with Syrians still in Syria

People in Aleppo are suffering unthinkable violence


The Rally for Aleppo at Downing Street at noon today is potentially very significant.

I hope most people will have some understanding of why it is being held, of the level of violence people in Aleppo are being subjected to particularly by Putin and Assad’s air forces, and of the great humanitarian need to end the siege against civilians.

What is particularly important about this demonstration is the number of big NGOs that have come together to call on the UK Government to implement an effective strategy to protect civilians. Syria campaigners have been demonstrating for years calling for action, but NGOs have in the past been reluctant to go beyond vague ‘Stand with Syria’ type slogans. See the NGO letter to Theresa May.

The collective NGO letter doesn’t prescribe what ways and means the strategy should use, but some of the NGOs do go into detail. Colin Walker of War Child calls on the UK Government to consider robust economic sanctions, tracking military aircraft involved in assaults on civilian areas, a helicopter no-fly zone, and a no-bombing zone.

Avaaz, who are also backing Saturday’s rally, commissioned a set of polls by YouGov which showed very strong support for a no-fly zone by people in France, Germany, and the UK, ranging from 59 per cent in France to 69 per cent in Germany.

As significant as the high level of support was the tiny level of outright opposition. Only six per cent of those polled in the UK opposed a no-fly zone.

Syrian groups in the UK support the proposal for a no-bombing zone. Unlike a no-fly zone this doesn’t require air patrols or the shooting down of aircraft. Instead it proposes to deter attacks on civilians by retaliating with long range missile strikes against Assad regime military targets like runways, bomb factories, and regime aircraft on the ground.

A no-bomb zone wouldn’t put British pilots at risk, wouldn’t have to bomb air defences, and wouldn’t have to directly engage with Russia. If Russian planes continued to bomb civilians, retaliation would still target the Assad regime’s military.

There has been a lot of noise around Boris Johnson recently picking up on Ann Clwyd’s remarks about demonstrating outside the Russian Embassy. Syria activists have demonstrated outside the Embassy a number of times in the past, but we know Putin isn’t going to be swayed by public opinion in the UK. What’s needed for that is action by the UK government.

There has also been a lot of attention given to Stop The War’s opposition to any action against Russia, even against any economic measures. Syrians and their supporters have protested at Stop The War’s events several times, but we shouldn’t let the miserable spectacle of Stop The War distract from the issue of Syria itself. There has been a wider failure by civil soiety in the UK to engage on Syria.

Last year there was a major positive shift in engagement on the issue of refugees, but Syrians still inside Syria need solidarity and protection as well. Let’s hope that this more forward leaning stance by NGOs in the UK can lead to greater engagement. One area where we hope that might happen is in education.

Syria activists in the UK are involved in a number of measures on that. One is an emergency appeal for a school in Aleppo. We know the people involved in Aleppo, and put them together with the UK registered charity managing the fundraising.

Another more long term effort on Syria is the Education For Freedom campaign. They are preparing educational materials for UK schools and planning school visits. The aim is to build direct links between schools in the UK and schools in Syria.

Please join the Rally for Aleppo (12 noon,Downing Street) this afternoon and show your support for Syrians still in Syria, For the children of Aleppo, for their mothers and fathers and grandparents, for Syria’s medics, rescue workers and teachers.

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11 Responses to “Rally for Aleppo: Show solidarity with Syrians still in Syria”

  1. CR

    One lot of islamic extremists fighting another bunch of islamic extremists. Must be difficult to decide which side to support !!!

    Back in the day, before the Arab Spring, the strong leadership of these countries kept them under control.

  2. Jimmy Glesga

    Seems Cameron strutting around the Middle East accommpanied by the Arms Bazaar lot is forgotten. What kind of state would the Middle East be in if the Islamic Fascists had prevailed in Egypt! Israel could be forced to use its last option. Surprises me that there are idiots who think the so called Arab Spring was about democracy.

  3. Boffy

    I am all in favour of rallying and demonstrating against the atrocities being committed by Putin and Assad in Syria, but totally opposed to linking that to calls for the British or other governments to place further sanctions on Russia, less still for them to impose “no-fly” or “no-bomb” zones on Syria.

    Britain and other western powers are to blame for much of the situation in Syria and other parts of the Middle East to begin with. Set aside the historical roots of the problem arising from colonialism, the further cause of the problem has been western interference in the region in more recent times, going back to Suez, to the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, and subsequent support for the Shah, then the western support for Saddam against Iran, including the provision of chemical and biological weapons. Then there has been the constant support and arming of the feudal gulf monarchies, which in turn have provided the financing and training of a host of Islamist terror groups. There was the promotion of Bin Laden by the CIA, and channelling of weapons to him in Afghanistan via Pakistan, to oppose the soviets. That was extended in using Bin laden to develop the KLA in Kosovo, to promote ethnic violence, and ultimately to oppose Serbia.

    The overthrow of Saddam by the West opened the door to the overrunning of the country by ethnic violence, and terrorists, which spread into Syria. The supposed “no-fly” zone in Libya was used to undertaken tens of thousands of bombing runs and cruise missile attacks on the country, which again opened the door for the country to be taken over by Islamist militia, and more recently by ISIS, which has opened another avenue down into Mali and North Africa. NATO member Turkey has been used as Pakistan was in the past. It has provided a route for arms, training, finance, and Islamist fighters into Syria.

    The claims that the problems in Syria have arisen because the West this time did not intervene, as they did in Libya and Iraq, are farcical. The West has been intervening on a huge scale in Syria for several years, both directly via special forces, and via its proxies.

    Any linking of opposition to the role of Assad and Putin to a suggestion that the West could provide an answer would be to effectively destroy the possibility of an effective opposition to Putin and Assad. It would rightly be seen as just a means of siding with the West.

  4. Mick

    The Left are funny people. Now we’re getting involved with kicking jihadi ass in Syria too, the complaints about us get ever louder. But when we’re out of things, lefties also complain that we don’t make a difference.

    Maybe THEY should make a difference. Human shield time, again? Come on lads, the red brigades need forming!

  5. Don

    Mick, you are obviously an American, the most ignorant of their lot that supports US imperialism always talk in terms of “us” and “they” without mentioning who those terms refer to because they believe the USA is the perpetual good guy.

    As for this idea of a rally, well it is really is completely stupid and actually supports US, Euro, Anglo, Israeli imperialism. “show support” for what? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you support the overhthrow of Syria by the USA Jihadi force? Obviously you do “left food forward” what a completely ridiculous name.

  6. Imran Khan

    Well said Mick. Whatever the West does or doesn’t do is wrong. The left hates the West on principle. I don’t know which one but they do.

  7. Mick

    Thank you. But if it’s the truth, anybody can tell it.

    Stop The War tie themselves in such knots – ‘Stand by the oppressed, even if the oppressed are oppressors too’ – that even the 1982 liberation of the Falklands is a war crime! And they were fascists in the junta!

  8. Boffy

    There is indeed a big difference between the working-class getting involved and making a difference – as the International Brigade did in the Spanish Civil War (the terrorist activities of the Red Brigades during the 1980’s are a completely different matter!) and the imperialist state getting involved in conflicts, whether that state be Russia, Britain, or the US. Imperialist states getting involved not out of any principle of democracy or humanitarianism, but in order to further their own politico-economic and strategic interests. It is why the working-class if it wants to be effective in such conflicts has to keep clearly distinct from any such state.

    The answer to Putin’s activities in Syria does not lie with Britain or the US or the UN imposing further sanctions on Russia – effectively on the Russian people, just as the sanctions on Iraq were on the Iraqi people not Saddam, and the sanctions on South Africa were sanctions on the mostly black people of South Africa, not the apartheid rulers. The answer lies in the Russian working-class rising up to oppose him, both for his war mongering activities abroad, and for his reactionary policies at home. The last thing required is for Putin to be given a pretext to rally the Russian people to his support on the basis of hostility to them by western regimes, and peoples. Prior to WWII, the threats issued against Germany were used by Hitler in that way, and the extent to which “socialists” backed those threats, simply enabled Hitler to say, “Look even the British and French socialists are imperialists threatening us.”

    Our prime goal is to oppose the military activities of our own governments in the Middle East, and on that basis to be free to build support amongst Russian workers for a similar policy there. After all Putin’s warmongering abroad, and his reactionary policies at home are damaging the living standards of those very Russian workers, whilst sanctions give him the ability to blame the West for that effect.

    I would love the international labour movement to be able to build the kind of international defence force that the International Brigade represented in the 1930’s. However, we are a long way from it, and looking to the capitalist state to perform that role instead takes us further and further away from it.

  9. Michael WALKER

    “The answer lies in the Russian working-class rising up to oppose him (Putin), both for his war mongering activities abroad, and for his reactionary policies at home.”

    Rarely have I read such rubbish. In the real world Putin’s approval ratings in Russia are 80% +.. The working class support him.

    Try again with a proposal that has some basis in reality.

  10. Mick

    “Mick, you are obviously an American”

    Ah, the racist Left! They see no irony in hate speech, until someone criticises Islam! The new and previous Labour leaders pledged to make that a criminal offence.

    Incidentally, in reference to above, the Left and Hitler share much the same exploitative language. Both types of people blame the other using the language of the conspiracy theory. And whether or not Johnny Arab gets his pasting, in whatever situation, the Left always moans. That cheapens whatever they say again.

    An example of Left exploitation is the fact people have even harder lives when the ‘means of production’ are in government, er, ‘public’ hands.

  11. DJH

    Looks like Left Foot Forward has come to the attention of the Putinbots ?!

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