Join us Donate

The coalition organising the Palestine protests condemns the irresponsible comments of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seeking to demonise those calling for a ceasefire. The long tradition of freedom of protest and expression in this country is being threatened. People have been protesting in unprecedented numbers because of their horror at the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians which they have seen livestreamed across their screens. Israel has now killed over 30,000 Palestinians, 70% of them women and children, forcibly displaced over 1.7 million, destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza including schools, homes, hospitals, universities and places of worship, and denied access to food and water leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing starvation.  This morning Israel perpetrated its latest massacre killing dozens of Palestinians queuing for aid in northern Gaza.  Despite all of this, and Israel now being on trial in the world’s highest court for the crime of genocide, the British government is not only failing to act but continuing to offer Israel political, diplomatic, financial and military support.  The protests to which Rishi Sunak objects have been fuelled by the huge democratic gulf between the majority of the British population on the one hand, which opposes Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza, and most politicians on the other. Since these protests began in October, government ministers, including the Prime Minister, have denounced peace protestors as ‘hate marchers’ for expressing the majority view. Under intense political pressure from the government, political commentators, and a range of pro-Israel groups pushing to have the protests banned, the policing of the demonstrations has been increasingly aggressive and restrictive. We have produced a dossier of concerns which we will be presenting to the Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police on Friday of this week.  

In recent days, following the disgraceful scenes in Parliament where the speaker was pressured to abandon normal protocol during an SNP ceasefire debate, this repressive atmosphere has escalated dramatically. This includes disturbing press stories and commentary by politicians, portraying a lobby of Parliament as an act akin to insurrection and seeking to associate peaceful protests with terrorism. Much of this demonisation has been openly Islamophobic fuelled by the recent interventions of Lee Anderson and Suella Braverman amongst others.  

None of this bears any resemblance to reality. The massive demonstrations have been diverse, family-friendly, well managed protests reflecting the wishes of the public on this issue. As even the Metropolitan police have had to admit, the marches and protests have been peaceful and orderly with fewer people arrested than at the average music festival. Chief Constable Haward of National Police Chiefs council in evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, admitted, “We have seen very peaceful protests given the numbers which have turned out.” There have been no attacks on politicians by pro-Palestine protestors, with the only violence being that of pro-Israel, far-right groups encouraged by the demonising rhetoric of politicians. In this context Rishi Sunak’s suggestion that new measures are required to keep protestors away from decision making centres can only be properly understood an attempt to insulate politicians from public opinion and democratic participation. As such they are an attack on democracy not a defence of it. 

We will not allow the voices of Palestinians to be silenced. We will continue to march for a ceasefire, for the genocide to end and for an end to all UK complicity with Israel’s decades long oppression of the Palestinian people.