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Protesting on Parkinson Steps, Leeds University

Around 80 people took part in a solidarity protest with the masses in Syria, organised by the local Syrian community. As well as displaying several flag emblazed with the word ‘freedom’, the protest was awash with homemade placards, and also featured several young people staging visual stunts depicting the ongoing violence in the country.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

The mood on the protest was one of solidarity with the mass of the population, with over 10,000 estimated to have died so far. The protestors were clear in putting the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of the Syrian regime, in particular President Bashar Assad and called for an end to the repression as well as arguing for unity between the different ethnic and religious groups in the country.

One of the flash-mob stunts by young protestors

However, some protestors leading the chanting called out chants arguing for David Cameron to do something about the situation in Syria. A statement handed out at the protest called on “the British government to send immediate humanitarian assistance, including medical supplies and personnel, to areas where it is safe to do so.”

This can be interpreted in multiple ways, but in either manner Socialists would be wary of this formulation. In the opinion of Socialists any medical supplies and other aid should be under the democratic control of elected local bodies that can distribute it according to need, not foreign groups distributing aid to curry favour in a post-Assad Syria. But Socialists would also be opposed to any military intervention by imperialist powers into the situation, even on so-called ‘humanitarian grounds’, which in Libya and other places around the world which have either failed to stop massacres or provoked sectarian tensions which have led to further crises. The Libyan rebels must appeal to the ranks of the army on a class basis, as well as taking measures to defend themselves and civilians organised on a democratic non-sectarian basis.

Socialist Party members handed out all the copies of the leaflet they distributed, getting a welcome response from many at the protest. Our leaflets, based on the analysis available on the CWI website (see http://www.socialistworld.net/view/158), argued that the way forward in Syria was based around a socialist programme to offer a way out of the capitalist crisis that is a background to the current situation, as well as rejecting imperialist intervention in the crisis and instead advocating the building an independent working class force which could unite the oppressed masses (regardless of ethnic and other distinctions) to rid Syria not just of Assad, but the whole rotten elite.