Stop Bombing Syria protests: Bruce Kent questions legality of airstrikes


UCL students at the protest. L-R: Grace Edwards,  Megan Jones, Maria Duster, Jemima Brennan

UCL students at the protest. L-R: Grace Edwards, Megan Jones, Maria Duster, Jemima Brennan

By: Jo Siedlecka

Protests against Saturday's airstrikes on Syria took place in a number of cities across the UK on Monday. A huge crowd gathered in Parliament Square, at the same time as Prime Minister Theresa May was being grilled by MPs in the Commons over the attacks.

The Prime Minister decided over the weekend to join US and France in launching airstrikes on Syria, targeting the Assad regime's alleged chemical weapons bases. Many MPs had wanted a debate in parliament before any decision was made to bomb Syria.

One of the speakers at the London demonstration was Bruce Kent, CND Vice President. Describing the attack as 'undemocratic', he asked why it had gone ahead without consultation with governments or the UN.

The full text of Bruce Kent's address follows:

Last week our Prime Minister ordered the RAF to bomb Syria - as a punishment for an alleged chemical weapon war crime.

She did so in partnership with President Macron of France and President Trump of the United States. None of the three sought the approval of their democratic institutions in advance. What shocked me most was the lack of any reference to the United Nations by the three leaders, by almost any of our national media, or by other commentators.

The Charter of the United Nations was signed in June 1945. Its prime purpose was to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war'. Any independent decision by a country to go to war was ruled out. The only exception was in Article 51 which allows self-defence after an attack by another country--- but only until the Security Council has taken charge of the situation. Even the Security Council only has 'primary' responsibility (art.24.1). After that comes the General Assembly.

Don't May, Macron and Trump know about these legal obligations?

Had I been aware of what was planned last week I would have thought it my duty to tell the RAF crews involved that they should raise the issue of illegality with their superiors and if necessary refuse to take part in the recent illegal bombing of Syria. But not even our Westminster Parliament was allowed to know what was going to happen. Democracy?? Not as in my dictionary.

The ongoing mess in the Middle East needs an entire new approach. We are playing on the edge of nuclear weapon disaster but most people are not even aware of the perils of this Trump-Putin conflict.

We need to get some sane heads together. The Dalai Lama, the Pope, Caroline Lucas of the Greens and the ex-President of Ireland Mary Robinson just to start with. The heads of Oxfam, CND, CAAT Amnesty International and the Red Cross perhaps as well. Perhaps too one or two of those who have known war and its horrors - like our Veterans here today.

It is time for other brains with other mind-sets to make their own contributions as well as the current political figure heads. Meanwhile why not a ceasefire in Syria, warm welcome for war driven refugees, relief corridors created, hospital ships in the Mediterranean, and as well ---long term here - the distribution of UN Charters in all schools and Universities?

We have had too much foolish nationalism. We are first of all global citizens and as global citizens we face the same opportunities and the same risks. Clear air, fresh water, sufficient food, respect for human rights, are universal needs. The dangers arising from global warming and world militarism clearly face us all. It's absolutely obvious that the world must abolish war and militarism, and find better ways of dealing with human rights abuses, corrupt governments and wider conflicts. The United Nations exists to do just that. Why don't we use it?

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