A group of Syrian solidarity activists disrupted a speech by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at Stop the War’s Conference on 8 October.
They wanted to highlight the ongoing and murderous bombing of Aleppo by Russian forces and the continuing crimes of the Assad regime. Disgracefully, they were removed by the Stop the War organisers as a chant of “No more war” by the audience was used to drown them out. Whilst we do not share the optimism of some of the Syria solidarity activists for the prospects and dominant politics of the Syrian opposition, we fully support their protest in exposing the dreadful political state of the Stop the War Coalition.
Since 2011 and the outbreak of the demonstrations against Assad, Stop the War has taken a de-facto pro-Assad line. It did not and will not call any demonstrations against Russia’s bombing. Not only this, but it has refused to engage with anti-Assad Syrians, stopping them from speaking on its platforms, attempting to remove them from their demonstrations. It has allowed supporters of Assad such as Syrian nun Mother Agnes to speak from their platforms.
Jeremy Corbyn has a long association with Stop the War and he has failed to speak out against Russia’s actions in Syria or to meet Syrians to discuss the situation. An open letter to Corbyn signed by over 150 activists, Labour party and Momentum members states; “We know only too well that there are those in the anti-war movement who will denounce any move critical of Russia, Iran, or Assad as tantamount to support for Western imperialist intervention….We appreciate your concern not to lend support to right-wing calls for fruitless bombing campaigns. But in the face of the horrors being perpetrated across Syria, with impunity, and above all by Russian and Assad-regime forces, we believe socialists and anti-war activists cannot simply look on in silence. We ask that you condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis.”
Corbyn should come out against the politics of Stop the War on this and many other issues. We hope he does that and begins to push for the kind of anti-war movement that puts democratic rights at the top of its agenda.
• You can sign the letter here