Julian Assange will appear as a guest speaker at a British event marking the 10th anniversary of the conflict in Afghanistan.
According to its website, the “Stop the War Coalition” will be holding a large-scale demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London, on the 8th of October, featuring an assortment of public figures as keynote speakers. As well as the WikiLeaks founder, other persons set to make an appearance include human rights activist Jemima Khan and George Galloway, a former MP and vehement opposer of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The timetable for the day, scheduled for next Saturday, states that the rally itself will take place at 12 noon local time, to be opened by ex-soldier Joe Glenton, who was imprisoned for nine months after going Awol (absent without leave) in opposition to the Afghanistan war. Accompanying him at the opening of the assembly will be Grace McCann, arrested by police (ironically) for attempting a citizen’s arrest on Tony Blair during the Iraq Inquiry in 2009. The main stage will feature “speeches, music, films and performances” from the assembly’s most notable attendees, whilst the marquee stage conducts meetings and “open-mic” sessions, as well as a variety of installations and displays.
There will also be a “Naming the Dead” ceremony, led by Joan Humphries and Rose Gentle, mothers of soldiers who lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq war respectively. At approximately 4:00 pm, demonstrators will march to Downing Street, led by ex-soldiers and their families and no doubt flanked by hundreds of British policemen.
The idea behind the demonstration is seemingly to send a crucial message to the British government; namely that the war in Afghanistan has been too costly (monetarily and in terms of human loss of life) to justify its continuity. The Coalition’s website asks supporters to sign a pledge, stating: “…if British troops are still in Afghanistan on the tenth anniversary of the invasion I will join the mass assembly in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 8 October to make it clear to the government that they must not continue this brutal and pointless war in defiance of the will of the people.” Other areas of the site cite both the humanitarian and monetary exhaustiveness of the Afghanistan war as reasons for the organisation of the protest.
As British demonstrators flaunt their placards in Trafalgar Square, across the pond Americans will occupy Washington DC’s suitably named “Freedom Plaza”, also in protest of the war in Afghanistan. The American website proclaims: “It is time to light the spark that sets off a true democratic, nonviolent transition to a world in which people are freed to create just and sustainable solutions.”
In light of the Arab Spring and WikiLeaks’ latest cable releases, it does indeed appear that time has come.