Local protesters will be expressing their opinion on Exeter’s High Street this Friday, in opposition to the government’s plans to attack Syria. The Vigil, under the banner of ‘Don’t Attack Syria’ will start at 5.30pm on Bedford Square, opposite the Exeter Riddle sculpture.
With the government forced to back down from its initial proposal for a vote on Thursday due to Labour opposition, it is clear that public opinion in the country is against military action. The Daily Express is talking about “a public outcry not seen since the lead up to the Iraq invasion 10 years ago“.
Even then, although the government ignored the million who marched in London, Labour veteran Robin Cook, in his resignation speech on March 17 2003, said “neither the international community, nor the British public is persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this military action in Iraq”. The same is true this time, and the people of Exeter and Devon are turning out to show their strong support to this rising tide of opposition.
Local organiser Ghee Bowman said ”I was listening to the news over the weekend, and getting increasingly alarmed by the tub-thumping from the warmongers. So I chatted to a few friends and started a facebook page. 24 hours later there are over 50 people saying they may come, with 37 of those definite. Devon people are angry that British troops may once again be drawn into an armed conflict that nobody wants, and want to make their voices heard loud and clear. I think we’ll be joined by young people, old people, families, Quakers, local politicians and people who aren’t political at all”.
Local citizen Rebecca Michel said: “In any case, what makes us think that we have the right to police the world? If Russia or China intervened with military force somewhere in the world, we would be outraged. The USA and Western allies are viewed by many around the world as bullies and oppressors. Military intervention in Syria would only exacerbate that problem. It would not even necessarily protect Syrians but would up the ante for the whole region and international politics.”
Friday’s protest will include a 30 minute silent vigil followed by brief speeches. Placards are welcome, with the message ‘Don’t Attack Syria’. All are welcome.