(The following article was first published in the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 226 April/May 2012. see www.frfi.co.uk for more information)
Hands Off Somalia (HOS) was initiated by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism in January 2012. The campaign was then set up by both Somali and non-Somali activists, who understand what western intervention means and the destruction that it imposes on its victims. It was a response to David Cameron’s speech in November 2011 at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, in which he claimed ‘Somalia is a failed state that directly threatens British interests’ and that ‘young British minds are being poisoned by radicalism’.
The campaign aims to highlight the corporate, political and economic interest that Britain has in Somalia and the tactics that are being used to achieve this outcome. We oppose all military and political intervention in Somalia by the British government. We agree with those who label the sudden call by Cameron and others for intervention in Somalia as part of the new scramble for Africa and its resources. The campaign aims to draw attention to ‘British interest’ in this scramble. We also hope to name and shame the western companies that have been dumping toxic waste on Somalia’s unprotected shores and to hold them accountable for their crimes.
The issue of criminalisation is also important to the campaign. Cameron’s speech targeted the Somali community in relation to extremism; this can only lead to yet greater use of stop and search and racial profiling, heightening the already extremely Islamophobic climate.
Together with Voice 4 Somalia, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and other organisations, Hands Off Somalia held a successful demonstration on 23 February outside the London Conference at Lancaster House (see article above). Hundreds of protesters attended to oppose the talks. The campaign is continuing to work with a number of different groups to raise awareness about the situation in Somalia, by attending and organising public meetings and other events and making
documentaries and short films to underline the contributing factors to the civil unrest in Somalia and Britain’s role in it.
by Muna Hassan