London protests: Hundreds descend upon Parliament Square as Afghanistan gripped by fear

·4-min read
Protesters gather on Parliament Square in London (Getty Images)
Protesters gather on Parliament Square in London (Getty Images)

Hundreds of demonstrators descended upon Parliament Square demanding action on Wednesday after the Taliban took control in Afghanistan.

Multiple protests took place outside Parliament in central London as MPs returned to the House of Commons after it was recalled.

Women and children came bearing posters, red balloons and flags of Afghanistan painted on their cheeks.

Others brought flags and waved them in the air while chanting “free Afghanistan” and “we want women’s rights”.

They were also joined by people from Iran and Iraq who showed solidarity for the people in Afghanistan.

Jeremy Corbyn was among Stop The War campaigners demanding politicians recognise the war in Afghanistan was a catastrophe and must not be repeated.

The former Labour leader was joined by MP Richard Burgon and campaigners against the future occupation of Afghanistan.

His brother Piers also attended, although the pair appeared at different points.

Mr Corbyn, an Independent MP, tweeted: “Joined @STWuk and other campaigners outside Parliament this morning to demand support for Afghan refugees and no more disastrous wars.”

In separate protests, crowds of around 200 people joined former translators for the British Army.

The demonstrators held banners and signs up in front of Parliament as MPs arrived.

Signs they held included images of people gravely injured in Afghanistan, with the caption “Protect our loved ones”.

Demonstrators hold “save Afghanistan” banners in Parliament Square (REUTERS)
Demonstrators hold “save Afghanistan” banners in Parliament Square (REUTERS)

Later, dozens more people joined Afghan translators in Parliament Square in the afternoon which lead to a crowd of around 200 people.

One protester was originally Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where at least three people are feared dead after the Taliban opened fire on protesters on Wednesday.

Dewa, who moved to the UK two years ago, said she is concerned about her family members, including her cousins and her aunts, who are still in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the protest in London, she said: “We came down here for the solidarity of our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan.

Jalalabad protests (Evening Standard)
Jalalabad protests (Evening Standard)

“We want to tell them they are not alone, we will do everything we can as British citizens to change the situation for Afghanistan.

“This is horrible. This is chaos. They handed over our safe and stable nation to the group they called terrorists for 20 years.”

She added: “The girls, the women, the young boys, they’re so scared to go out on to the street. Everyone is trying to find a way to escape the country.”

No-one was arrested and no-one was injured at the protests unfolding in London.

Women and children came bearing posters, red balloons and flags of Afghanistan painted on their cheeks (Lucy Young)
Women and children came bearing posters, red balloons and flags of Afghanistan painted on their cheeks (Lucy Young)

Meanwhile, Gurkhas staged a separate protest in the same area.

They are calling for equal pensions for Gurkhas who retired before 1997 but are not eligible for a full UK armed forces pension.

Mujtaba, who was an interpreter from 2005 to 2010 in Afghanistan for the British armed forces, said he felt he had a lucky escape as he managed to move his family to the UK a month before the takeover.

He described how he moved to the UK in 2010 after his job finished with the British Army but was granted settlement for his family last month.

“I said to my parents, my family, my friends that I am the luckiest person that I came out of Afghanistan with my family and my children,” he said.

“The situation in Afghanistan is not good. Lots of our family, friends and colleagues have been left behind.

“When I see everything going on, it makes me sad. I’m sad for them all. But it’s not just me – everyone around the world is worried about the situation in Afghanistan.

“My colleagues, my friends, my two brothers who worked for eight years for the British armed forces in Helmand province and they’ve been left behind.”

Boris Johnson said more than 300 UK nationals and 2,000 Afghans have been safely returned (Roger Harris/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Boris Johnson said more than 300 UK nationals and 2,000 Afghans have been safely returned (Roger Harris/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

Tory MP Johnny Mercer visited Parliament Square shortly before 1pm where he met members of the protest.

“I’m here because I support these guys and what they’re trying to do to get a better resettlement policy for Afghan interpreters,” he said.

“I always try to come down and see what they’re doing.”

Discussing the government’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan, he said: “It was dreadful for a long time.

“Many people here have been trying to change the policy for seven years. Now we’re changing it, we’re getting there, but I hope it’s not too late and we can bring home as many people as we possibly can.”

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