Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Jeremy Corbyn wrote an article in memoration of biggest co-ordinated demonstration in the world – against the Iraq war in 2003 in Britain.
He writes, it was 20 years ago today, on February 15 2003, that I stepped on to the huge stage in Hyde Park.
I immediately realised this was no ordinary rally. I had never seen one million people in one place; in every direction there were people, people, people.
February 15 2003 changed the atmosphere, emboldened the peace movement and gave hope to millions. In a genuine democracy, our voices would have been heard.
The parliamentary vote was the following month, and the result is well known. Britain became part of the war machine that pulverised Iraq, killed thousands, cultivated space for terrorists, and brought about the wars of the following years.
The dead of Afghanistan were joined by the dead of Iraq, Libya, Syria. The refugees who fled are still fleeing.
The Iraq war was a terrible and wrong decision. Its victims were ordinary Iraqi men, women and children who laugh and cry just like all of us.
Those of us who protested were vilified, patronised and demonised. There were no weapons of mass destruction. We were deceived. And we were ignored. In 2016, when I was leader, I issued a formal apology on behalf of the Labour Party for the war in Iraq.
Today, we are witnessing Russia’s terrible war in Ukraine, on top of the horrors of Yemen and many other conflicts around the world.
The need for peace is more desperate than ever, yet arms sales are booming, and massive profits are being made from the misery and death that war brings.
A world that has been through Covid, faced with climate disaster and beset by massive inequality does not need wars, nor more armaments. It needs voices for peace. And it needs voices that stand up to the far right, who are seeking to divide our communities by demonising refugees — themselves victims of wars that we were involved in.
I’m not interested in bombs. I’m interested in peace. Every generation has a defining campaign such as Spain in the 1930s, Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.
For many of us, our defining campaign was February 15 2003. There is no glory to war. There is only misery, death and destruction. It’s up to all of us, then, to fight for a peaceful world.