Tuesday, 26 January 2010

LONDON GAZA PROTESTS JAN 2009: DEBATE & REPORT OF JAILING OF TWO YOUNG WOMEN PROTESTORS


SALUTING OUR YOUTH WHO STOOD BY GAZA

AND ARE NOW BEING PUNISHED FOR IT

Sukant Chandan

Sons of Malcolm

26 Jan 2010


It is important that this article below by the British Socialist Workers Party’s paper states “The heavy sentences for Layla and Bana should send shockwaves through the anti-war movement. We need to stand alongside all those bearing the brunt of this state attack,” the SWP paper of course is right in stating this and one sincerely hopes that this call is taken up by the anti-war movement.


While the SWP possesses many of the defects of much of the English Left, it has been the biggest organised component of the Stop the War movement and taken a generally consistent line on anti-imperialist in the Middle East and Islamophobia all of which makes their constructive and positive contribution to the movement an important one, and one which distinguishes the British anti-war movement from many other anti-war movements who are not open-minded about the resistance and have many Islamophobic prejudices.


So it is with regret that one observes that the SWP did hardly anything for these young people at the time when they were protesting on these demonstrations. While a few SWP activists showed courage in physically and politically standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those involved in the skirmishes outside the israeli embassy a year ago, the SWP were nowhere to be seen in any organised fashion, neither were any other Left organisation present in any serious way.


The same failures are unfortunately taking place in the anti-fascist movement whereby it is overwhelmingly young Muslims who have spontaneously shown determination to make sure the far-right are not allowed to stand as which took place in Birmingham and Harrow, with the Left either showing an abysmal turnout or/and having shown an incredibly lack lustre mobilisation of people in confronting the far-right.


It is a hard task to convey this message across our class, but anti-imperialist internationalism and anti-fascism is in the interests of all the working class in England, but it is too often left to Muslim youth to bear the brunt of these challenges.


Those in England who believe in an assertive internationalism with anti-imperialist mass struggles (such as shown by the dozens of young people, many of them children in the protests against the Gaza onslaught), and those who truly believe in effectively confronting the far-right need to stand with these young people before they are arrested and are facing jail times. One simple thing they could do is set-up competent legal observer teams when our youth are in action, something which Sons of Malcolm were involved last year, often being the only organised presence on the Gaza protests.




Two are jailed after last year’s London Gaza protests


Socialist Worker

Two young women who took part in protests in solidarity
with Gaza in January last year have been sentenced to 15
months in prison for “vandalising a branch of Starbucks”.

While the people whose decisions brought death to hundreds
of thousands in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are free to
do as they please, those who have protested against war are
facing a police clampdown.

Layla Lahouidek, 19, and Bana Hablegiorge, 20, were charged
with violent disorder – a charge that is usually reserved
for serious offences.

Layla was arrested at her home in June last year, six
months after the event.

She and Bana were captured on CCTV in the cafe on
Shaftsbury Avenue in central London after protesting
against Israel’s war on Gaza.

They are just two among over 70 people arrested and charged
after the protests last year.

Many of the charges are for violent disorder, with some of
the accused as young as 12.

Most are aged between 15 and 19.

Some of the defendants were arrested in dawn raids on their
homes and questioned by police without legal
representation.

The majority of the accused are Muslims.

Many of the defendants were called to West London
Magistrates court for an initial hearing on 29 and 30
October last year.

In the waiting room, police officers gave defendants
immigration forms to sign, agreeing that any conviction
could result in being deported.

Unusual bail conditions were also placed on the vast
majority of the young people.

This included having to hand in their passports to their
local police station and being banned from any travel
unless previous permission had been received from police.

The heavy sentences for Layla and Bana should send
shockwaves through the anti-war movement.

We need to stand alongside all those bearing the brunt of
this state attack.

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