On 23 February, supporters of Hands Off Somalia!, Voice 4 Somalia, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and others demonstrated in opposition to the London Somalia Conference.
The conference was a high profile event, hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, which boasted it would bring together representatives of 40 governments, as well as international organisations, to decide how best to tackle the ‘problem of Somalia’.
It ended with a communiqué http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=PressS&id=727627582which was written and widely leaked a month prior to the event, and a press conference, at which Cameron and other speakers made it clear that ‘targetted’ military intervention and air-strikes against Somalia are on the cards.
Hands Off Somalia! was set up before the conference and brought together a core group of activists from all backgrounds, who then met weekly to organise to demonstrate against Britain’s plans for increased intervention in the Horn of Africa, under the guise of fighting terrorism and piracy.
The campaign aims to highlight that the real threat to the region is Western imperialism, that British imperialism cannot play a progressive role in Somalia, any more than it has done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and that British interests have no place in Somalia.
We agreed the following demands, which were reiterated throughout the protest:
- No to imperialist military intervention, direct or through proxy
- No to the violation of Somalia’s sovereignty
- No to the exploitation of natural resources, by Western corporations, belonging toSomalia.
- No to the dumping of toxic and nuclear waste in Somalia’s fishing waters
- No to the division of Somalia
- No to the criminalisation and scapegoating of the Somali community in Britain
Throughout the day of the Conference, as Cameron, Hillary Clinton, Alain Juppe and other imperialists discussed how to deal with ‘piracy’, ‘Islamic militancy’ and the other ‘problems’ which render Somalia in their eyes ‘the world’s most failed state’, we kept up a powerful presence in the streets outside, with a mass of Somali flags and placards bearing anti-imperialist slogans.
We ran an open microphone which demonstrators put to constant use with speeches, slogans, songs and poetry in Somali and English.
Well done to all the people who came down to support the demonstration, which sent a strong message towards those in the conference and in the media on the day.
No to intervention!
Hands off Somalia!