Organisers resist pressure by Met Police to cancel Palestine march on Armistice Day
The Metropolitan Police have come under increasing pressure from government, to ban the pro-Palestine march planned for next Saturday in central London. They have been faced with a barrage of harsh public comments and direct requests from the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman – who has denounced the demonstrators as ‘hate marchers’, and the UK Prime Minister, Ricci Sunak, who has referred to the march as ‘provocative and disrespectful’ and ‘an affront to the British public and the values we stand for’.
The Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Ade Adelekan yesterday issued a statement confirming that he had met with the organisers of the march and that he had urged them not to go ahead with any protests planned for this weekend due to security concerns.
The Deputy Commissioner, expressed his concerns that that there were significant risks of disorder as the proposed march coincided with commemorations for Armistice Day. He said:
‘The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing. This is of concern ahead of a significant and busy weekend in the capital…our message to the organisers is clear: Please, we ask you to urgently reconsider. It is not appropriate to hold any protests in London this weekend’
Deep concern at Met Police statement suggesting that they were considering cancelling the march
The request to postpone the march was met by a firm rebuttal from the organisers. A press-office statement published by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Monday ‘on behalf of all the coalition partners’, read:
‘We are deeply concerned at the statement released by the Metropolitan Police with regards to our planned March for Palestine on November 11th. We have been meeting with the Police regularly in the past few weeks to maximise public safety in the large-scale protests we have been organising. These protests have brought in total over 1 million people to the streets of London marching peacefully, calling for a ceasefire.
We met earlier today with the Police to finalise the route details of the planned march on Saturday going from Marble Arch to the US Embassy - well away from the centre of London and Whitehall. At that meeting the Police made clear, as reaffirmed in their statement, that the marches we had organised had been overwhelmingly peaceful with low levels of arrest.’
'The marches we had organised had been overwhelmingly peaceful with low levels of arrest'
It is of note that even a largely hostile press, have had to concede that given the numbers of attendees at the marches – in the hundreds of thousands, which have taken place each weekend since the beginning of the latest conflict, those involved in violent or disruptive exchanges has been minimal and the few arrests made, have mostly been in connection with ‘questionable’ displays on banners.
Political pressure is being placed on the police by government and right-wing political groups
The organisers are adamant that the impetus behind the request to postpone, is politically motivated and in essence an attempt ‘to suppress widespread public support for an end to Israel’s bombardment of the people of Gaza.’
The PSC statement continued:
‘They asked us to consider not marching this Saturday and postponing for a week because of the sensitivity of this weekend. It is categorically not true that the Police told us that it was not appropriate to protest this weekend. They raised a concern about the possibility of breakaway groups leaving the march but were not able to provide any evidence as to why this risk would be increased on Saturday 11th November.
As we made clear in the meeting, we recognise the political pressure being placed on the police by the Government and right wing political groups. However, we emphasise that they had and have a responsibility to withstand that pressure and act to uphold democratic freedoms including the right to protest. Those mounting pressure are the same voices actively resisting the call for a ceasefire despite’ overwhelming public support for that call. The idea that it is acceptable for Israel to keep bombing and killing Palestinians in Gaza, including over 4000 children, but not for people to protest peacefully against these crimes is grotesque.
We will be holding a protest on Saturday and we invite all people of conscience to join us in peacefully marching, as planned, from Hyde Park to the US Embassy. Despite their statement we will continue to engage with the Police to ensure public safety on this protest’
Independent Reviewer of Terrorism cites 'freedom of expression' as he cautions against cancelling march
Jonathan Hall, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, spoke on Monday and expressed his concern about attempts to block the march. Whilst recognising the need for the police to closely monitor and control the march, he said:
‘My instinct must be that you should always err in favour of freedom of expression’
The Founder and Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa – Ismail Patel, one of the march coalition partners, went further and published a video message online, which highlighted the tragic milestone of over 10,000 Palestinian victims of Israeli bombardment in the last 31 days and directly placed the march and its core message of peace, in the context of the Armistice Day celebrations.
Even the Palestinian Brigade contributed to helping the British army in World War 1
‘Armistice Day is a day of paying tribute to all those who contributed and gave their lives for our freedoms and democracy – ensuring ‘never again’ to wars. We respect the sacrifices of our predecessors. I am on the record where I outlined on 2nd of November, confirming that our protest will not be going anywhere near the Cenotaph. To suggest that we pose a risk to the Cenotaph, is grossly misleading, divisive and stoking extremist racism. It is also important to remember, that during the First World War, over 3 million people from the Commonwealth served in the British army. Even, the Palestinian Brigade contributed to helping the British army. During the 2nd World War, Commonwealth forces outnumbered British forces. To acknowledge those who gave their lives, we are starting our protest, one hour after respect to the fallen at 11 o clock is given.
We call for armistice on Armistice Day
Further, according to the Royal British Legion, Armistice Day is a sign of both remembrance and hope for a peaceful future. As such we will ask after paying due respect to protesters to call for armistice – for peace and ceasefire. There is nothing more respectful on Armistice Day, then calling for an Armistice and I hope you will join us on Saturday 11th November in London for a peaceful protest calling for a peace and ceasefire’