BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in October 2006We've left it here for reference.More information
Listen to Radio 3 - BBC Radio Player

Free Thinking : The city

From Liverpool, playwright Esther Wilson

Free to be free

  • Esther Wilson
  • 14 Sep 06, 08:03 PM

Is peaceful demonstration still a civil right?

I'm off to Manchester next Thursday to camp out for three days at a 'Peace Camp' in Albert Square.
While researching a play about the effect on the families of soldiers who are killed, maimed or broken while serving in Iraq & Afghanistan -

I've spoken to some remarkable people.

href="">bring them home now -
and Military Families Against the War
Military Families Against the War are hosting the peace camp event.

But Manchester City Council tried to prevent the 'peace camp' taking placeBBC news citing 'logistical' problems. Hmm?

It also coincides with the start of the Labour Party Conference at the G. Mex on Sunday.

Stop the War coalition are inviting people to march on a Time To Go demonstration.

So what logistical problems are they really concerned with?

A peace camp? A labour council against it?

It will happen. People will sit together and talk about the notion of peace.

Now that is a scary thought for our leaders eh?

Post a comment about 'Free to be free'

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

Contact details


  1. At 11:43 PM on 14 Sep 2006, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    Esther: You and everyone at the Peace Camp will be in my thoughts and prayers. Best Wishes from Miami. Roberto

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  2. At 08:14 AM on 15 Sep 2006, elena gekker wrote:

    Who organizes this kind of compains? Can you explain it to me?

    During the cold was America stood up against the Soviet Union and the world is free now of the so called Easter Block.
    I pray that this time they all be successful too. You people are doing something wrong in my veiw.

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  3. At 09:37 AM on 15 Sep 2006, jason wrote:

    Perhaps people who join the armed forces should realise that they are often asked to fight in wars they do not agree with ?

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  4. At 08:23 PM on 15 Sep 2006, Susanna wrote:

    I hope to be able to be there too.

    My MP says that his constituents don't seem to care. He was incredibly cyincal. He says no-one writes to him. It is always the same "Quaker Peace Group" people and narrow intellectuals who write to him.

    He said that after Dunblane, he had no letters from anxious parents worried about their children, he said he only had letters from people worried about losing their write to carry guns.

    He was depressed and cynical because no-one writes to him.

    Let's show our MPs we do care!

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  5. At 12:27 PM on 17 Sep 2006, fitz wrote:

    But isn't it that we don't care about them cos they don't care about us - Tony blair takes us into Iraq and then there is mayhem on the streets of England!

    did he care about us and England - I doubt it very much!

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  6. At 03:34 AM on 20 Sep 2006, fitz wrote:

    Until the great unwashed majority of libertarians known as the British voter, exercises their right to vote at each election and exercise this right vigorously and in majority numbers, there seems very little benefit in marching apart from making yourself feel better and getting a short plug on the 6 o'clock news!

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  7. At 01:34 PM on 20 Sep 2006, esther wilson wrote:

    Would a change of government have any effect on the arms trade? Is peace beyond the realm of human capabilities? If so, what do dream about then?

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  8. At 01:52 AM on 21 Sep 2006, fitz wrote:

    I wasn't suggesting for one minute that any government would make decent changes. I was focusing more on the totally apathy of the British public to feel passionate about anything including voting.

    I think the Romans knocked it out of us and we have beena pretty subserviant bunch of non-voters ever since!

    Britain has continuously been invaded, subdued and subjugated for hundreds of years and still can't handle freedom well, even when you hand it to them on a voting plate

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  9. At 03:22 PM on 25 Sep 2006, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    I hope the demonstrations came out great. I heard them on BBC News.

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  10. At 10:39 AM on 27 Sep 2006, esther wilson wrote:

    The demonstration in Manchester last week-end -

    after three days at the 'peace camp' with the Military Families Against The War -

    was instigated by much passion.

    A passion to be be counted.

    A passion to want to know why we are involved in even more conflicts around the globe yet our soldiers seem to be lacking the correct equipment.

    A passion to want to know the truth about the specifics of how some soldiers were killed.

    A passion to express anger at feeling duped.

    And a passion to examine the social constructs which lead to disempowered young men joining the army because 'it was the best option.'

    As one mother said 'My son wanted to be a car mechanic.

    The army recruited him outside the dole office and offered great prospects - see the world & learn a trade!

    It takes three years to train as a car mechanic. But he was taught to be a soldier in just 24 weeks.

    He was killed in Iraq three weeks after arriving there.'

    That particular mother was accused of having a 'simplistic' view of events. I disagree.

    I think it's entirely profound. Uncomfortably so...for some.

    Not everyone learns to have a political consciousness while at the London School of Economics.

    Some things can be that 'simple' - they are quite illuminating.

    Is it these 'simplistic' views of the world which make those in positions of power, afraid?

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  11. At 11:42 AM on 27 Sep 2006, John McGuirk wrote:


    I always find myself in a quandary about issues relating to war, to fight or not to fight.

    I don't like wars and I don't think all of the people who back the Iraqi war do either.

    But there comes a time when you have to make decisions you don't actually like.

    Saddam Hussein would have had to be faced sooner or later, make no mistake. He was murdering thousands of his own people anyway. It is not the allies doing the killing in Iraq, it is outside vested interests.

    Elena makes a good point about the cold war. If America had not been around then we may not have been writing these Blogs now.

    Only time will tell the rights and wrongs of this war but remember some people were against the last world war and if Hitler had been stopped sooner 30,000,000 lives may have been saved.

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  12. At 02:32 PM on 28 Sep 2006, estherwilson wrote:

    I think that's the problem John. Time is telling

    us the 'rights and wrongs' of this war.

    Remember the 'war to end all wars'?

    How many people have died in wars since Hitler

    was 'stopped'?

    Did humanity learn from that?

    What's the arms trade industry worth?

    If, as alleged, we're spending £52 billion

    (approx) per year on arms & £32 billion

    (approx) on tackling poverty....

    ....we're spending more on killing people than

    we are on saving them!

    Don't we need to look at that, a little more closely?

    I spoke to the wife of a soldier who is back

    after two tours in Iraq.

    She said 'after Bosnia he came home like a

    King. He felt he had done something good,


    But this time he's changed. A different man.

    Even the kids see it. He's not my husband


    He's broken.'

    Why is it that this war seems to be effecting

    the families of soldiers, differently?

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  13. At 03:59 PM on 15 Oct 2006, Ellen Loudon wrote:

    hope you had a great time at the peace camp. The Loudons are far away in Bristol at the moment and are missing you all in the Pool. keep the place warm for us. Peaceful protest is the only way to deal with a government who have taken away so many means of legitimate protest. Love to you. XXXX

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  14. At 07:01 PM on 17 Oct 2006, anarchosurfer wrote:

    Hi I was on the demonstration in Manchester. It was a fantastic day, very peaceful. The Police even thanked us for out behavior, well what did they expect we are PEACE activists.

    These points are mainly replies to Elena Gekker and John McGuirh's questions and points.

    These campaigns are organised by political groups or in the case of Stop the War a coalition of political groups. They have a meeting and decide to call a demonstration. They raise money to cover the cost of organising it and publicising it. Anyone can organise a demonstration. You have to apply to the Police and local authority for permission. The President of the Stop the War Coalition in the UK is a man called Tony Benn he is one of Britain's most respected politicians, He was a Labour MP for decades until he retired.

    What happens with coalitions is groups of like minded people get together, they organise meetings locally at first then usually organise a national conference that anyone can attend were the officers of the organisation are elected. All groups no matter how small have elected officers, usually at least a Chairperson. Vice Chair, Sectretary and Treasurer, they may also elect press officers, representatives on the National Commitee etc.

    Demonstrations are democracy in action. In dictatorships, demonstrations are not allowed. I was on the Poll Tax demonstration in 1990 that was attacked by the police in order to stop us speaking out. All of the Anti War Demonstrations have been peaceful and have been carried out with the full cooperation of the Police.

    Does demonstrating change anything, yes I believe it does. Sometimes it takes a long time, look at the Chartist movement (a campaign to get the vote), it took over a Century to get full democracy in the UK. Sometimes they acheive their results very quickly, look at the "velvet revolutions" in the Eastern Block at the end of the Soviet Union for example.

    America did not "stand up" to the Soviet Union, they were economic and political rivals. America did not actually defeat the Soviet Union, it was economic difficulties that ended the Soviet Union. You could count the war in Afghanistan maybe, where the American's supported and funded Islamic Extremist groups including, Al Queda, the Mujahadeen and the Taliban against the Soviet Union and this contributed to the economic decline by costing the Soviet Union billions of roubles it could not afford. The Reagan/Bush administration were responsible for the start of the Civil war in Afghanistan and the recruitment, training and and arming of the Mujahadeen, the Taliban and Al Queda.

    Unfortunatly the present debacle in Afghanistan and Iraq are a direct result of both Americas support for Islamic extremist groups as well their support for the Iraqi regime for decades. They encouraged and helped Iraq in their invasion of Iran in the eightee's. They supported Saddam while he used Chemical weapons on the Kurds and Iranian's. They knew he had no WND's as they helped supply them to him themselves.

    The war in Iraq was based on lies. No country has the right to act as the worlds policeman, especialy not one as corrupt as the Bush regime. They were only elected in 2000 by committing fraud. George Bush and the Bin Laden family are close personal friends and business associates.

    If you don't believe me about the American Governments dirty tricks, one event stands out. When Reagan and Bush senior ran America the CIA smuggled Cocaine into the USA and used the money to buy weapons from Iran, yes Iran, they gave those weapons to the Contra's so the could overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua as they wouldn't do what the American government told them to. Oliver North one of Reagan's closest aids was imprisoned for it, Reagan got off as he said he couldn't remember.

    The invasion of Iraq has only led to more deaths and repression and the so called "war on terror" has become a recruiment ground for extremists both Islamic and right wing racists here in the UK. The outcome will probably be the division of Iraq after a civil war and possibly the setting up of an Islamic state or two. The American Government either don't know what they are doing or they want to destabalise the entire region to push up oil prices and increase their personal fortunes.

    You may think that your Government can't be that bad as they were opposed to the Taliban, not true, in 2000 a Taliban delegation was invited to Texas were they signed a deal with Dick Chaney for Haliburton to put a gas pipeline accross Afghanistan.

    Haliburton have been granted contracts worth billions for the rebuilding of Iraq, however some of these contracts were awarded before any offical decision was made to invade, clearly no matter what the UN inspectors did or said Bush and Blair would have invaded.

    When America invaded they didn't even have a plan for victory. The only thing they wanted was to secure the oil fields. They never even attempted to secure the supposed chemical weapons plants or the Nuclear research facilities. Clearly they can't have really been worried about WMD's. It was left to Greenpeace to ensure the Iraqi people were not poisoned by Nuclear waste. Whole chemical plants disapeared over night, destination unkown.

    The Bush administration knew that the 911 attack was imminent. The FBI tried to investigate but were blocked by the CIA, George Bush's dad was once the head of the CIA. Despite knowing that suspected terrorists were training to fly planes and knowing that an attack was imminent, the Bush regime did NOTHING to tighten airport security. Infact the hijakers were legally allowed on board the airplanes with knives. I've seen the security cam footage with them being let onto the planes with knives strapped to their belts. As the knives only had four inch blades they were legally allowed on the planes.

    Back to the links with Suadi Arabia, 19 of the Hijakers were Saudi, not one was an Afghan, Iraqi or Iranian.

    Why do I oppose the war there are lots of reasons:
    1.The war is illegal both in international law and national law.
    2.The reasons given for the war were lies. No WMD's have been found.
    3.I am personally opposed to war.
    4.War could only plunge Afghanistan and Iraq into turmoil. this has happened.
    5.The wars would cost hundreds of thousands of lives, this has been bourne out.
    6.I do not trust the motives of George Bush or Tony Blair.
    7.It is likely that Iraq will fragment into three, probably after a devastating civil war.
    8.The wars would only serve to destabalise the region.
    9The US government would try to impose their own dictatorships as the have done in lots of other countries, they supported Saddam and the Baath Party. Their initial choice for President was a person convicted of a $400 billion dollar bank fraud in Jordan and who was once a member of Saddams regime. Had Iraq been subdued quickly it's likely the US would have been happy to set up another dictatorship that allowed Bushes mates control of the Worlds second largest oil reserves.
    10. they are only intersted in oil, Iraq has the second largest oil reserve in the world. During the Sanctions period the US were the largest purchaser of Iraqi oil, they purchased more than everyone else combined but for enonomic reasons wanted moire. The "War on Terror" has helped them divert attention from the economic mess they have made at home. They want to invade Iran for their oil, they are the second largest producer in Opec.
    11. War should only be the last resort, these wars were not, the Hawks of the Bush regime (thats the entire regime) have wanted to invade Iraq since the 1990's, if you don't believe me type "the project for a new American Century" into Google and hit enter. Check out Iraq on the site, read the signatures and weep. 911 was a convenient excuse for their obscene plans, thats why it was allowed to happen.

    Peace. Love and Equality.

    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy