Imperialist hands off Somalia! 23 February 2012

On 23 February, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supported a demonstration called by the Hands Off Somalia! and Voice 4 Somalia campaigns in opposition to the London Somalia Conference.

This conference was a high profile event, hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, which boasted it would bring together representatives of 40 governments, as well as international organisations, to decide how best to tackle the ‘problem of Somalia’. Cameron, Hillary Clinton, Alain Juppe and other imperialists discussed how to deal with ‘piracy’, ‘Islamic militancy’ and the other factors which in their eyes render Somalia ‘the world’s most failed state’. The day ended with a communiqué which had been written and widely leaked a month prior to the event, and a press conference, at which Cameron and other speakers made it clear that ‘targeted’ military intervention and air-strikes against Somalia are on the cards.

Hands Off Somalia! was set up on the initiative of FRFI comrades a month before the conference and brought together a core group of activists from all backgrounds, who then met weekly to organise against Britain’s plans to increase intervention in the Horn of Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism and piracy. The campaign aims to highlight that the real threat to the region is Western imperialism, that Britain cannot play a progressive role in Somalia – any more than it has done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – and that British interests have no place in Somalia. We agreed the following demands:

  • No to imperialist military intervention, direct or by proxy.
  • No to the violation of Somalia’s sovereignty.
  • No to the exploitation of Somalia’s natural resources by Western corporations.
  • No to the dumping of toxic and nuclear waste in Somalia’s fishing waters.
  • No to the division of Somalia.
  • No to the criminalisation and scapegoating of the Somali community in Britain.

Hands Off Somalia! then came together with Voice 4 Somalia, a newly formed coalition of Somali activists in London, to build a united demonstration. We maintained a powerful presence outside the Conference with a mass of Somali flags and placards bearing anti-imperialist slogans and an open microphone which demonstrators put to constant use with speeches, slogans, songs and poetry in Somali and English.

The demonstration received no coverage on British TV but was widely reported internationally.

Imperialist hands off Somalia!
Imperialist hands off Somalia!

Imperialist hands off Somalia!
Photo by Aimee Vallory

Imperialist hands off Somalia!

Photo by Aimee Vallory


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