On October 17, between 70,000 and 100,000 (according to ESF and Stop the War Coalition sources) marched through Central London behind a banner with slogans against the imperialist war in Iraq, against racism and against privatisation. The event closed the European Social Forum 2004, where up to 20,000 people had attended more than 500 meetings over three days.
This massive demonstration, although smaller than the first ESF held in Florence in 2002, showed that the anger of young people and workers against the pro-capitalist policies of the different governments of Europe is still there. It was also a clear message for Tony Blair, the prime minister of the country hosting this year’s European Social Forum.
The demonstration sent out a clear message of rejection of the imperialist war and the occupation of Iraq. Trade Unionists, youth and activists from different social movements from around 70 countries marched in a four-hour long demonstration. The demonstration went from Russell Square to Trafalgar Square where a rally was held.
Among the speakers were Paul Mackney (NATFHE), Aleida Guevara (daughter of Che Guevara) and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP, who mentioned the Venezuelan Revolution as an example of real democracy. Rose Gentle and Reginald Keys – parents of two soldiers killed in Iraq – were also there. Rose Gentle said, “It’s time for Tony Blair to pull the troops out, innocent people are getting killed”. The anger of this mother for the loss of her son in an imperialist war for oil was more than evident.
80 police officers pen in 15 protesters at Kings Cross