Rochdale peace campaigners joined national and international protests in London and Lisbon on Saturday (20 November 2010) calling for an immediate end to NATO's war in Afghanistan. The distinctive Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group banner was prominent in the crowds on the national 'Afghanistan: Time to Go' march from Hyde Park, while Pat Sanchez and Rae Street took their 'No to NATO' message all the way to the NATO summit in Portugal.
Philip Gilligan held a placard with the message 'Rochdale says Support our troops. BRING THEM HOME!!' in Trafalgar Square, while listening to speeches from former soldier Joe Glenton imprisoned earlier this year for refusing to return to fight in Afghanistan; other members of Military Families Against the War, whose sons, daughters and partners have been killed or are still serving there and from speakers highlighting the fact that the war in Afghanistan costs the country £5billion per year.
Philip Gilligan said,
"NATO's disastrous war is destroying lives and costing money. During the last few days, we have heard of the death of the 100th British soldier to die during 2010 and have, again, heard military experts tell us that this war is unwinnable. The governments of Blair, Brown, Cameron and Clegg have been sending our young men and women to be killed and to kill in Afghanistan for nine years, but nothing has been achieved beyond propping-up a notoriously corrupt regime in Kabul.
At a time when health services are being withdrawn from our town, when our council is planning to cut £50million from services and put 900 people at risk of losing their jobs and when many young people are to be priced-out of a university education because of increased tuition fees, it seems that the government can still find £5billion a year to spend on a futile war they know cannot be won and know is opposed by the overwhelming majority of the British public.
David Cameron meeting with other NATO leaders in Lisbon, now, tells us that the plan is for British troops to continue to be sent to Afghanistan to kill and be killed, there, at least until 2015. He is expecting us to accept another four years of pointless deaths, destruction and injuries, simply to save him and others from needing to admit that it was a mistake to invade Afghanistan in the first place. This disaster has already gone on for far too long. It needs to be stopped now. Our troops need to be brought home in 2010; not at some date in the distant future, by which time many more Afghan civilians and many more NATO troops will have died needlessly, just so the politicians responsible can save face."