British antiwar groups protest ban on rally

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Jan 31 06:28:30 MST 2003


The People's Park
STATEMENT FROM CND, THE MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF BRITAIN AND THE STOP THE WAR
COALITION

Our organisations are deeply concerned at the sudden and apparently
arbitrary decision by the Royal Parks Authority to deny us, as the
organisers of the February 15 demonstration against war, access to Hyde Park
for an end-of-march rally.  We are further concerned that this decision may
have been taken at government level, which would raise the most fundamental
issues regarding the right to protest.

We believe that the reasons given for this ban are spurious, and that any
genuine issues regarding public safety could easily be dealt with in
discussions between the Parks Authority, the Metropolitan Police and
ourselves.  To avoid any confusion, we are urging the authority to lift this
ban without delay and allow plans for the rally - the arrangements for which
were first discussed with the Parks Authority well before Christmas - to
proceed.

We wish to reaffirm that the demonstration on February 15 is going ahead,
and that there is no question whatsoever of it being cancelled.  It will be
a peaceful and democratic protest, representing the views and voices of the
great majority of the British people, who are against this war.  A rally
will be held in Central London at the conclusion of the demonstration, and
we believe that this can and should be in Hyde Park, the more so since no
realistic alternative venue has been suggested.  February 15 is a worldwide
day of protest against the war, and the British people can and will be heard
in their capital city, as millions will in other capitals around the world.

We urge the government to direct the Parks Authority to lift the ban
straight away,  Our organisations are ready to continue discussions about
any legitimate concerns which the authorities or others may wish to raise
about the organisation of what may be the largest demonstration in London's
history.

Carol Naughton              Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Mohammed Sawalha            Chair, Muslim Association of Britain

Andrew Murray               Chair, Stop the War Coalition

See also http://www.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,3604,884903,00.html


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