Wednesday, January 07, 2009
GOVERNMENT BLOCKS GAZA DEMONSTRATION AT ISRAELI EMBASSY
Ministers are obstructing the holding of a national demonstration on Saturday
to protest against the Israeli invasion of Gaza, march organisers said today.
Officials of the Royal Parks Agency, acting under the authority of Culture
Secretary Andy Burnham, have blocked a plan to hold a rally in Kensington
Palace Gardens near the Israeli Embassy in London.
The demonstration, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, Palestine
Solidarity Campaign and British Muslim Initiative, is expected to attract tens
of thousands of people from across the country, outraged at the massacre of
Palestinians taking place in Gaza.
"The arrangements for our march and rally were notified to the police days
ago," Stop the War Coalition chair Andrew Murray said today. "We have now
found that they are being blocked by the Parks authorities, in consultation
with ministers, on the spurious pretext of a lack of precedent.
"This nonsensical argument recalls government attempts to stop the rally
against the Iraq war in February 2003 on the grounds that the grass in Hyde
Park might be damaged.
"Ministers should understand that the anger against Israeli aggression against
the Palestinian people is also without precedent. We are determined to
exercise our democratic right to express that outrage in a public space near
the Israeli Embassy.
"Attempting to block our plans - which have been drawn up with a view to
ensuring a peaceful and orderly protest on Saturday - risks making thousands of
people angrier still.
"We are therefore seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Burnham to ensure that he
removes these bureaucratic obstructions and allows our protest to proceed as