Assange ‘steals the show’ at Anti-War Assembly

Ten years and a day after the US/UK invasion of Afghanistan, thousands of people gather in Trafalgar square to demonstrate against the continuing occupation of Afghanistan.

Freedom for Palestine, Syria and Libya, and a reminder of those left in Guantanamo Bay, were among the other messages of the protest, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British Muslim Initiative.

A line-up of prestigious people, including John Pilger and George Galloway, shared their condemning thoughts of war. Contrary to the report by AFP, the protest in Trafalgar square today was not led by Julian Assange of Wikileaks and Jemima Khan of the Independent.

The demonstration actually began with speeches from Joe Glenton, a former soldier who had been punished for refusing to serve in Afghanistan, and Grace McCann, famous for the attempted citizen’s arrest of Tony Blair in 2010.

While Jemima repeated the messages which all prior speakers had, the crowd was distracted by Julian Assange on the sideline.

Assange, who stole the show for many in the crowd, says “wars are the result of lies” while referring to the Vietnam War, the Second World War, and the war in Somalia.

To clear up what AFP also wrongly reported, Assange actually said, “Let us ask ourselves of the complicit media, which is the majority of the mainstream press. What is the average death count attributed to each journalist? When we understand that wars come about as a result of lies peddled to the British public…, then who are the war criminals? It is not just leaders, it is not just soldiers, it is journalists. Journalists are war criminals.”
According to statistics from the Stop the War Coalition, £18,000,000,000 have been spent on the war since 2001, 380 British soldiers have died, and ISAF forces have killed 9,300 Afghan civilians, not counting those killed by other actors.
The main message of the demonstration was that the UK and Afghanistan cannot afford another 4 years of war in Afghanistan, and that troops should withdraw now.

Another resonating message from speakers was that the money spent on war could be spent on education and healthcare in the UK.

For the full speeches by Julian Assange, George Galloway and John Pilger, please return to this blog in a day or so.