Anti-war protesters march in London

Today's protest will criticise Tony Blair's handling of the Middle East crisis
Today's protest will criticise Tony Blair's handling of the Middle East crisis

As many as 8,000 people took part in a major anti-war demonstration against the current conflict in Lebanon this afternoon.

Protesters spent two hours working their way from Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park to Parliament Square. Apart from a clash between police and protesters outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square the march passed off peacefully.

Demonstrators left children's shoes at the Cenotaph - just yards from Downing Street - in protest at the deaths of children who have so far been killed in over three weeks of fighting between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hizbullah.

Protestors also handed a letter, reportedly bearing up to 40,000 signatures, to Number Ten, accusing Mr Blair of "deplorable indifference to the plight of the Lebanese people" and "an attitude of total subservience to the foreign policy of the US administration".

The Stop the War coalition, which has coordinated the march, had expected up to 50,000 peace protestors to demonstrate their unease over the failure of the British government to call for an immediate ceasefire in the region.

Although less than a fifth of that number actually participated in the protest, the organisers have insisted that the demonstration was a success.

Speakers at the rally included peace campaigner Bruce Kent, former parliamentarian Tony Benn and serving MPs from across the political spectrum.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: "The demonstration shows the unity of any normal thinking person in this country that there should be an immediate ceasefire and that the government's line is incomprehensibly wrong."

Meanwhile anti-war activist Bianca Jagger, who also spoke at the rally, said that "I feel compelled to speak out because I am appalled and shocked by the degree of human suffering and destruction we are witnessing in this war".

She argued that "self-defence does not relieve Israel from its obligations under international humanitarian law" before saying that "Israel's actions are becoming a threat to world peace".

As the protest took place UN officials completed negotiations over the text of a resolution which, if passed by the security council, would enforce the "immediate cessation of hostilities" between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hizbullah.


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