10th National Ceasefire Now march to US embassy, London 9th March 2024 10th National Ceasefire Now march to US embassy, London 9th March 2024. Photo: Steve Eason / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED

At the tenth national demo against Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza, the Palestine movement continues to prove Rishi Sunak wrong

Almost half a million people gathered on the streets of London to continue the weekly protests against the genocide in Gaza.

The protest, organised by Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Muslim Association of Britain and Friends of Al-Aqsa, gathered at Hyde Park Corner before marching to the US Embassy in Nine Elms.

In honour of International Women’s Day, the crowd heard from an all-female bill of speakers including Welsh singer Charlotte Church, Zarah Sultana MP and Stop the War Convenor, Lindsey German.

‘Today we are keeping our focus very much on the Palestinian women of Gaza,’ commented Stop the War Vice-Chair Andrew Murray. ‘Women have been bearing the greatest burden in Gaza in terms of loss of life, in terms of trying to care for children – to deal with the huge consequences, not just of bombardment, but starvation,’ he continued. ‘Despite the government doing everything it can to demonise, intimidate, marginalise, delegitimise these protests … the movement is still as strong as ever,’ he added.

Indeed, recent allegations by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that protestors are ‘extremists’, ‘anti-Semites’ and ‘hateful’ have failed to deter the hundreds of thousands of people of all ages, ethnicities and religions, who make it their priority every week to attend both local and national protests.

Sunak’s inflammatory rhetoric combined with increased police repression – including reports of a protestor in her 80s whose hip was broken while she was being arrested at a previous demo ­– gave Saturday’s protest an atmosphere of caution, but also defiance.

One protestor from India said she decided to attend the protests, ‘because Britain is complicit’. She explained that: ‘Our money as taxpayers is going to the Israeli government and being used to kill innocent people … so I feel like it’s my responsibility to show them that if you’re going to do this, we won’t vote for you.’

In response to Sunak’s claims of extremism and hate at the demos, a protestor of Greek Cypriot and English descent said, ‘I’ve been on every one of these marches [and] I feel really privileged to march alongside Jewish people who are saying quite loudly and quite clearly, “not in our name”.’ When asked whether she had witnessed any anti-Semitism at the demos, she confirmed that ‘I have not seen any anti-Semitism here.’

A protestor from Ireland said he felt the marches were ‘beautiful’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘should be celebrated as opposed to be vilified’. His message for Rishi Sunak was, ‘You’re an unelected imposter,’ referring to the fact that Sunak was not democratically elected as Prime Minister.

The sentiments of the protesters are shared by the majority of the British public, whose unwavering demands for a ceasefire in Gaza are still being ignored by both the government and the opposition.

Stop the War will be hosting a meeting on Palestine, Islamophobia and defending the right to protest, with Michael Mansfield KC and Diane Abbott MP amongst the speakers, at 18:30 at the Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch, London.

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