Statement from the Greenwich Socialist Party on the Woolwich killing
The unprovoked, barbaric and vicious murder of an unarmed soldier in Woolwich in late May is a horrific event which must have been profoundly traumatic for the people who witnessed it, and, of course, an appalling tragedy for the victim, and the victim’s family and friends. Local residents showed incredible bravery in intervening to try and assist the victim.
The Socialist Party completely condemns this attack just as we condemned 7/7, 9/11, and all similar attacks aimed at indiscriminate slaughter. This latest killing, while of one individual rather than many, appears to have been completely indiscriminate, with the victim selected possibly only because of the ‘help for heroes’ t-shirt he was wearing.
The attackers apparently claimed to be acting in the name of Islam, and in protest at the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the vast majority of Muslims will be as sickened and horrified by this attack as the rest of the population. The brutal imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have resulted in the deaths of over one hundred thousand civilians, are not the responsibility of ordinary soldiers, but of the governments that took the decision to invade and then occupy. New Labour went ahead with the invasion of Iraq despite opposition from a majority of the population, including the biggest demonstration in Britain’s history, which the Socialist Party helped to organise.
Terrorism is a completely mistaken and counter-productive method of struggle. It was the mass terrorism of 9/11 which gave George Bush a ‘justification’ he could use to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq. One of the attackers in Woolwich called on the people of Britain to overthrow the government. It is the same government which continues the occupation of Afghanistan that is carrying out terrible austerity measures on the working class of Britain. However, this brutal killing will be used by Cameron to try and bolster support for this incredibly unpopular, weak and divided government.
In the wake of this killing the racist thugs of the English Defence League (EDL) have already cynically tried to use the event to whip up racism against all Muslims. Two attacks on mosques took place on the night of the Woolwich killing. The Socialist Party is totally opposed to the scapegoating of Muslims as a result of this tragic killing. From whatever section of society mistaken and damaging methods of struggle arise, the only way to combat them is for all working people – from all backgrounds – to unite to build a movement against racism, against terrorism, but also against the endless austerity of capitalism.
We must also resist any attempts by the government to use this as an excuse to attack our democratic rights. Anti-terror legislation has been used to undermine anti austerity protests. Ordinary working class people have fought and died for these rights in the past.
This is not the first time working class people in Greenwich have had to stand firm in the face of attempts to divide. Just a 2 minute walk up the same road is the Kings Arms pub which was bombed by the IRA in 1974. The community in Greenwich resisted those who tried to whip up anti-Irish hysteria at the time.
In 1993 Stephen Lawrence was murdered in Eltham just 20 minutes away. A mass campaign against racism was mobilised by members of the Socialist Party (then Militant) and others which resulted in the far-right British National Party’s (BNP) headquarters in Welling being shut down.
It is important now, more than ever, that working class people in Woolwich and across Britain as a whole remember that history of solidarity and struggle. We must stand united against any attempts to divide us in the wake of this tragic event.