Speech of George Galloway, M.P. 5 February 2005

George Galloway at Noshahi Kashmir Centre, Coventry Road, Birmingham, 5 February 2005. Recorded and transcribed by Stephen Hewitt

[Editorial comments are in square brackets like this one. Audience applause is not mentioned except where it interferes with transcription.]

[a few foreign words] chair, distinguished panel, distinguished elders, brothers and sisters comrades and friends [ a few foreign syllables]

I apologise for my lateness in arriving I was er a little under the weather today with influenza I think and nothing would have gotten me out of my sick bed but the duty of attending this great meeting this evening to honour the great people of Kashmir. And at this rally we remember the fallen, tens of thousands of martyrs, who have fallen in defence of their rights. we console their parents and their families. we weep for the thousands of kashmiri women subjected to brutal assault including organised rape as a policy and above all we salute unequivocally without fear we salute the courageous freedom fighters of Indian-occupied Kashmir and we are the only party standing in these elections with our great allies - the people's justice party - who can and will say that. The other parties will criminalise those who speak for, raise funds for the freedom fighters of Kashmir - indeed they have already done so in the house of commons in voting for - one after the other - the anti-terrorism acts which have led to prisoners in Belmarsh in windowless dungeons, dark not unlike the dungeons in occupied Kashmir where muslim men rot in jail without charge, without trial, without legal representation, without contact with their families, without limit of time and without even knowing what they are accused of.

And new labour has responded to the ferocious denunciation by the country's supreme court the law lords who denounced this policy as illegal because it was discriminatory, applying only to foreign nationals living in Britain and not to British citizens, with a very creative amendment. They have decided to answer this charge by making it apply to all of us. And now in a few weeks time if the house of commons votes for it we will have for the first time in our country in peace time the right of a home secretary, a politician alone to sign a paper that can send any person in this country to this Kafkaesque nightmare of imprisonment without charge and without even knowledge of that which we are suspected of. So we have certain freedoms in this country but they are being taken from us, one by one, under the guise of the war on terror - a subject to which i shall return. but i want to make a few personal and local observations first.

Doctor naseem sab said that if it were not for the failure of the political parties a man like him - he said - at the very end of life, would not be forced to come out fighting in the way that he is. Well doctor sab inshallah you are nowhere near the end of life. You have no permission to go. You have no permission to leave us until you join me in the house of commons inshallah [foreign and then more words unclear because of applause] then after two or three turns we might accept your departure.

And my comrade salma yaqoob with her wonderful eloquence and integrity and dignity how she contrasts with the quiet man, the silent man, the invisible man, roger godsiff the so-called member of parliament for this constituency. Let me tell you as someone who has sat in the commons for all of the years he has been there and more he is the most useless waste of space that ever sat in the house of commons. Silent all these years ... and roused to speech by what? Was he roused to talk about the ongoing massacre of the people of kashmir, nearly a hundred of whom have been shot down dead this month, this last month alone? Was he roused to speak about the crimes of general sharon? He is after all a member of the labour friends of israel. Was he roused to speak about the crimes of his own country and uncle sam in their axis of evil in Afghanistan and Iraq? Did he speak about the rats in the street in his own constituency? Did he speak about the state of the housing and the hospitals and the schools? No. He spoke against his own constituents and their families, trying to scrape the barrel of white racism, trying to get back for another five years of silence in the house of commons. I tell you this. I'm going to put it this way only because I know from many past experiences here that [foreign word sounds like mashallala] many of you respect me. If i were standing in this election in this constituency against roger godsiff who would you vote for? You'd vote for me. I know you'd vote for me so I'm asking you from the bottom of my heart to elect my sister salma yaqoob for the respect party [more words unclear because of applause]

And while I'm on a roll - and I hope it's not offensive to anyone - he may have a distant cousin in the room - what was the point in all of the struggle all the upheaval of electing khalid mahmood to the house of commons? So he could carry the coat and hat as pps of the secretary of the labour friends of India? Was it so that we could have a muslim put his name to an article in the observer newspaper written by an English minister denis macshane justifying and supporting the slaughter of muslims in Afghanistan? Did we elect a Muslim in Birmingham so that he could go into the lobby to slaughter a hundred thousand Muslims in Iraq? Is this why we fought for a Muslim mp in Birmingham he's a slave, he's a slave mp. He's a servant of everyone who's out to do down the muslims in the world and if he is re-elected to the house of commons instead of doctor naseem, a man of the utmost integrity and intellect, it will be a shame a blot on this great city of Birmingham.

And we have organised this campaign and I'm going to ask you when the buckets come round to give silently. It's cost us nearly two thousand pounds to put on this event there's wonderful food waiting for you at the end of it - give silently with paper money we must raise the cost of this meeting and we must raise the cost tonight and over the next 97 days, enough money to elect salma yaqoob and doctor naseem to parliament and i hope you will help us [about 3 unclear words, possibly foreign, covered by applause]

Now one of the things which has run through this meeting is a central truth about today's world and it is that muslim blood comes cheap. You know bush and blair are endlessly reminding us about those heartbreaking messages from their mobile phones sent by those poor american women on those aeroplanes hurtling towards the twin towers. The messages they left on the answering machines of their families, messages of love and farewell, heartbreaking messages that would move a heart and soul. They constantly refer to this great crime of nine eleven to justify their own crimes. But I tell you this just because kashmiri women don't have mobile phones and their families don't have answering machines it doesn't make their slaughter any less obscene. than the slaughter of those american women on nine eleven. but our government don't recognise that they don't even know that 89 thousand people have been killed in Kashmir they don't know because they don't care ... because the people who died were muslims and kashmiris and they weren't americans and they weren't british and they weren't white. You see for them the blood of some people is more valuable than the blood of others. This is very clear they claim to be able to tell us within one hour of the closing of the polls of their bogus election in Iraq last week exactly how many people have voted but they haven't even begun to count the number of dead Iraqi's that they themselves killed with their attack and occupation of Iraq. If some operation by the Palestinian resistance was mounted this evening by the time you got home it would be the number one item on the news. You'd have live footage. You'd have interviews with the survivors, with the witnesses, with the families of those who had died. But every single day Palestinian refugees, men, women and children are being gunned down by sharon's army in Palestine and it's not even reported in the news in brief because those who have fallen are muslims, arabs, they are not British, they are not american and they are not white.

In Kashmir, in Palestine, in Iraq we see displayed another central truth of today. The powerful tell us that it is a question of democracy or terrorism while in truth it is a question of occupation or resistance that's what these three theatres - Kashmir, Palestine and Iraq - have in common. And they have in common also as salma said the double standards of the international community who will turn the world upside down to ensure the implementation of some united nations resolutions while ignore or even reward those who are breaking many more united nations resolutions. And that's the injustice for which respect has taken up political arms. We believe that the blood of every person is worth the same. We believe that every person in this country and on this earth is deserving of the same dignity and respect. We like Britain to be a multi-coloured multi cultural multi ethnic multi religious country. I lived in Britain when it was virtually all white and I prefer it this way. We treat every person with the same respect, wherever they came from, however they got here, however they pray. And we stand against those who in their grubby search for votes will lend themselves to the division of people one against the other, communities one against the other, in order to divide and to rule. And that's why we're called the unity coalition. We have many political differences on this issue or that between the many strands of opinion and different kinds of people who are joining respect the unity coalition. But we have agreed to unite around the most important things and to leave the less important things at the door, lest they come between us. and I hope in this constituency those who are toying with the idea of putting their hat in the ring - as doctor naseem said - to do so will only assist those who deserve to be beaten. Let's unite the community behind the unity coalition candidate of salma yaqoob and doctor naseem. If you can do that you will strike a blow - as salma said though i thought it was a little dodgy although her husband is a gp - it will strike a blow right at tony blair's heart. We know that's not the strongest part of his anatomy. Some of us wonder if he's even got a heart - but one thing's for sure if he wakes up on the morning of may the 6th and discovers that they have been elected in safe labour seats in Birmingham and I've been elected in east London and others have won a breakthrough elsewhere maybe it will spoil his breakfast good and proper good and proper [few more words possibly foreign, covered by applause]

Now i have to climb back into my car and drive the hundred miles or so back with my sore throat but I'm glad that i came here because this is as i expected it to be a magnificent rally and i see my friends, friends of mine of many years standing in the audience and i see new friends i hope you'll join our campaign i hope you'll financially support it. I hope you will take our literature. I hope you will join us on the stop the war march on the nineteenth of march just ten days before tony blair goes to the palace to require of the queen a dissolution of parliament and the official beginning of the British general election. If we have another mammoth demonstration on the 19th of march it will ensure that the war in Iraq will dominate the general election campaign and we can only gain from that. Let me tell you that on the way here somebody called me on my cellular phone from fallujah, who had seen me on al jazeera last night talking about fallujah. You know when we were celebrating [unknown word sounds like "evealfitta"] when we were feasting at the end of ramadan the dogs in the streets of fallujah were eating the dead, unburied bodies slaughtered by the american forces in that city in what will come to be seen as one of the greatest war crimes of the last half century. We only don't know how bad it was because they made sure that they drove out every independent journalist before they attacked, expelling al jazeera from the country altogether. But my friend from fallujah told me this and I want to tell it to you he said we have no vote in fallujah to get rid of tony blair, to teach a lesson to tony blair, so you in britain must vote for us so keep that in your minds as you approach this general election. Vote for the people of gaza. Vote for the people of fallujah. Vote for the people of occupied kashmir. Choose respect and teach these war criminals a lesson. [foreign words, covered by applause] Thank you very much.

Related