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UK: Stop the War Coalition hypocrisy on Ukraine & Syria

Italian workers stop arms to be sent to Ukraine - in the name of peace

Monday 21 March 2022, by siawi3


Stop the War Coalition hypocrisy on Ukraine & Syria

Thursday 17 March 2022,


Two weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as President Putin massed over 130,000 troops on the country’s borders, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) convened an emergency public meeting ”No war in Ukraine: Stop NATO expansion.” The advance publicity condemned “NATO’s nuclear warmongering and interventionist agenda.” It accused the British and US governments – but not Russia – of “ramping up the threat of war.” There was not a single word of criticism of Putin’s military intimidation and no expression of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and their right to self-determination.

Left-wingers like me who criticised StWC’s silence about Russia’s belligerent stance were denounced as warmongers and apologists for western imperialism. When we warned that Russia was preparing to invade, we were accused of fake news, scare tactics and stoking a new Cold War.

Since Russia’s invasion and its bombing of civilian areas, StWC has been hit by barrage of criticism, much of it from the left. Squirming with embarrassment, the convenor of StWC, Lindsey German, did a volte face: “We feel horror and sickness when we see Putin’s invasion, his attacks on civilian populations…we are consistent in opposing the misery, death, displacement and disruption that affects any country consumed by war.”

Not true! StWC never condemned Russia’s bombing of Syrian homes, schools and hospitals, killing thousands of civilians, from 2015 to the present. It remains silent, even now, about Russian war crimes in Syria and has smeared as jihadi extremists and US stooges Syrian democrats who oppose President Assad’s dictatorship. StWC refused to allow them to speak at its public meeting on Syria in parliament in 2015, and called the police to have them removed.

The same year, StWC stewards manhandled anti-Assad Syrians and attempted to eject them from the “Stop Bombing Syria” march, where StWC commendably, but one-sidedly, opposed US and UK bombing, while saying nothing about the bombing of civilians by the Syrian regime and Russia. This silence was interpreted by many Syrians as de facto collusion with tyranny and mass murder.

StWC was right on Iraq and Afghanistan but wrong on Syria. It has consistently excluded the voices of the Syrian democrats and given a free pass to the war criminals, Assad and Putin. Appeals for StWC to show solidarity with the non-violent Syrian civil society movements for democracy and human rights have been rebuffed. StWC has never rallied against Assad’s barrel bombs, chemical weapons and torture chambers, nor against the foreign military intervention of Russia – and Iran and Hezbollah.

Given its failure to condemn Russian imperialism in Syria, StWC’s sudden conversion to oppose Russian imperialism in Ukraine smacks of opportunism and reeks of hypocrisy.

Peter Tatchell is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation



Labor Movement
Italian Airport Workers Stop Arms Shipment to Ukraine Under Guise of “Humanitarian Aid”

In Italy, workers discovered that weapons were being shipped to Ukraine under the pretense of sending “humanitarian aid” and have refused to hand them over. Their example should serve as a model for all workers on how to take action against the war.

Simon Zinnstein

March 17, 2022

The war in Ukraine is causing more and more saber-rattling in the U.S. and Europe. As many countries massively ramp up their own military budgets, many more still are sending weapons to Ukraine. According to the Unione Sindacale di Base (USB), workers at Galileo Galilei Airport in Pisa, Italy discovered boxes full of “weapons of all kinds, ammunition and explosives.” They had previously been informed that the delivery contained humanitarian goods such as food and medicine. The airport workers then refused to send the weapons to Ukraine via Poland.

USB reports that the chairman of Tuscany airports, Mario Carrai, has since assured that there will be no more arms shipments through Pisa airport. However, USB continues to call on workers to block all arms shipments. Next Saturday, USB is organizing a demonstration at Galileo Galilei Airport with the slogan “From Tuscany: Bridges of Peace instead of Flights of War.”

With their courageous actions, the workers not only prevented these weapons from being used to kill, but also provided an example for the entire working class on how we can fight the war with our own means. Unionized workers in the U.S. and beyond should take the action of their Italian colleagues as a model.

The incident is also an example of how “humanitarianism” can be abused. The USB statement says: “We strongly condemn this blatant deception, which cynically uses the guise of ‘humanitarian aid’ to further fuel the war in Ukraine.” Humanitarian measures, such as sending aid supplies and accepting refugees are not enough to end the war — and in this case they even served as a cover for militarism.

Without the action of the workers, the arms deliveries via Pisa would continue. It is therefore all the more important to stress that stopping the war requires active intervention and independent workers’ organizing against the war. Workers in Italy and the USB have led the way with their unprecedented action. They should serve as an example to workers internationally on how to fight the war with their own means, such as strikes or blockades of arms shipments.

Originally published in Klasse Gegen Klasse.