Military families to descend on parliament

IssueMay 2006
News by Andrew Burgin

As Peace News goes to press, Military Families Against the War (MFAW) are preparing to descend on parliament to lobby their MPs. They are demanding an end to the war in Iraq and that the troops be withdrawn.

More than fifty family members will come to London and, for the first time, families of those servicemen killed in Iraq will be joined by families of soldiers serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Former MP and journalist Martin Bell will accompany them.

After the lobby the families will lay flowers at the Cenotaph for all those killed in Iraq, before proceeding to Downing Street where they will demand a meeting with Tony Blair. This is the largest mobilisation yet by families now opposed to the war in Iraq and who want the troops brought home.

Military discontent

The prime minister has yet to meet with the families of those killed in Iraq, or to visit any of the wounded soldiers.

The war is increasingly unpopular in the armed services and two recent cases highlight this: Ben Griffin (pictured), an SAS soldier, who left the services rather than return to Iraq and who will be joining the families at parliament. And secondly the case of Malcolm Kendall-Smith, who refused to serve in Iraq and who, in April, received an eight-month prison sentence. Kendall-Smith has challenged the legality of the war, and he will be represented at the Cenotaph (see PN2472).

Although there is hardly a lawyer in the land who believes the war in Iraq to be legal, the judge at Kendall-Smith's Court Martial refused him any witnesses on this point. The Military Families campaign is now raising money for his appeal.

And PN adds...

Earlier in the month around 25 people joined military family campaigners Rose Gentle and Janet Lowrie - whose son is currently serving in Iraq - outside Glasgow's Army Careers centre where, on 13 April, they protested against the army recruiting in schools.

The following week the Glasgow recruiters were troubled again, when the Clown Army offered its unique services to the Queen's Street recruitment centre: “We offered to train them in a range of useful skills: such as disarmament, withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq; and how to jolly up their rather drab uniforms with pink fluffy bits and silly hats.”

After hastily locking the door, staff and passers-by were treated to some “ridiculous operational manoeuvres” by the Rebel Army in front of the office.

A call had been made by MFAW for local groups to leaflet their local TA Centre, barracks or military estate on 18 April.