BY PAMELA HOLMES
LONDON - More than 2,000 people marched through central London April 11 to protest the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in a demonstration organized by the Committee to Stop the War in the Balkans. Most marched behind banners from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, labor movement, and left-wing political organizations. A large number of the participants were from Yugoslavia, including both Serb nationalists and others who described themselves as Yugoslav to Militant reporters.
A rally at the end of the march was addressed by a range of speakers, including the journalist John Pilger, Bruce Kent of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) Anthony Benn, and Conservative Party MP John Randall. The speakers' views ranged from eulogizing the role of "Serbia" in World War II to calling for the involvement of the United Nations. Despite periodic chants of "Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia," few of the speakers described the assault as being against Yugoslavia. Instead, most spoke of the attack on Serbia. A speaker who criticized Yugoslav president Slobodon Milosevic, who has taken the lead in whipping up Serb chauvinism against the Albanian population in Kosova, was shouted down. Not one of the speakers expressed support for an independent Kosova.
A Communist League banner demanding "UK-NATO Hands Off Yugoslavia! Independence for Kosova!" attracted interest. Many people came up to the banner and the accompanying campaign table at the start of the march and at the rally afterwards. Most of them, including Yugoslavs, wanted to discuss the CL's position that supporting self-determination for Kosova is essential to defending the workers' state in Yugoslavia from imperialist assault.
A small number of Serbian nationalists were openly hostile to the demand for Kosova's independence. As the march went by a 300-strong picket by Serbian nationalists of Downing Street, residence of Prime Minister Anthony Blair, a crowd of 30 chanted slogans aggressively in response to this banner.
Adjacent to the rally, a counterdemonstration backed NATO intervention. It numbered about 200 people, with mainly Albanian flags but also a few Union Jacks being flown.
By the end of the rally members and supporters of the Communist League and the Young Socialists had sold 46 single copies of the Militant, a subscription renewal for one year to the paper, four copies of Capitalism's World Disorder: Working- Class Politics at the Millennium, and seven copies of The Truth About Yugoslavia: Why Working People Should Oppose Intervention.
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