Daily Mail, October 8, 2011


Assange, Jemima Khan join 5,000 on anti-Afghanistan war march 10 years after conflict began

'Opinion polls suggest the majority of Britons want a speedy withdrawal of British troops, a view recently endorsed by the trade unions

By Emma Reynolds

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also took to the stage at the London rally
Opinionated: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also took to the stage at the London rally. (Photo: Reuters)
Surrounded by police, the protestors called for Tony Blair to be tried at the Hague for war crimes
Tony on trial: Surrounded by police, the protestors called for Tony Blair to be tried at the Hague for war crimes. (Photo: Reuters)

Jemima Khan joined up to 5,000 people on an anti-Afghanistan war march to mark 10 years since the conflict began.

The British writer and campaigner was part of a star-studded crowd who flocked to Trafalgar Square today to protest against the nation's continued involvement in the war.

At one point she led a 'Tweet-out', in which the protesters used social media to get their message out to the masses.

Other celebrities joining the demonstration were WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, singer Billy Bragg, musician Brian Eno, novelist Ahdaf Soueif and composer Howard Blake.

Ms Khan was also supported by Vicar of Dibley star Simon McBurney and actor Mark Rylance from The Other Boleyn Girl.

Both comedy and politics were represented, with funny man Mark Steel standing shoulder-to-shoulder with several Labour MPs - and 106-year-old anti-war campaigner Hetty Bower.

Many of the famous names addressed the crowd, including Tony Blair's sister-in-law Lauren Booth.

Journalist John Pilger and Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey completed the rosta of recognisable faces at the London demonstration.

Campaigners held a Naming the Dead Ceremony, in which 120 names of British soldiers and Afghan civilians who have died since the war began were read out.

The same number of balloons was released.

Brian Eno told protesters: 'We could build a very major hospital in 20 days worth of what it costs us to be in Afghanistan.'

The Stop The War Coalition, which had said it was expecting a huge turnout at the event, claimed 5,000 people attended.

But BBC correspondent Ben Ando, who was reporting at the march, estimated that only about 1,000 people had been at the protest and said organisers would be 'disappointed'.

Stop The War representative Chris Nineham said the protest showed that the 'overwhelming opinion in this country in against the war'.

A spokesman said: 'After 10 years of war in Afghanistan, more than 100,000 Nato troops remain and tens of thousands have died.

'Government claims that the war is contributing to Britain's stability look increasingly hollow.

'Opinion polls suggest the majority of Britons want a speedy withdrawal of British troops, a view recently endorsed by the trade unions.

'Politicians have to get in step with public opinion and announce a date to bring troops home.'

The demonstration ended with a march to Downing Street, led by ex-soldiers and military families.

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