Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Mother in Afghan withdrawal plea

Caroline Munday, left, and Joan Humphreys deliver a letter calling for the withdrawal of UK troops from Afghanistan to 10 Downing Street

The mother of a soldier who died in Afghanistan has called for British troops be withdrawn from the country - on the 11th anniversary of the start of the war.

Caroline Munday, whose son James died in a blast in Helmand in 2008, spoke at a protest against the war before delivering a letter to the Prime Minister.

She was among politicians and activists who gathered in Trafalgar Square, central London, to read out the names of some of the troops and Afghan civilians who have died since the start of the conflict in 2001.

The few dozen protesters with banners and placards then marched down Whitehall where Ms Munday dropped off a letter to David Cameron at Downing Street.

She said: "I'm here to speak out for mums. I think our soldiers are amazing and I'm behind them, I support them. But I also know what it feels like to have lost a son in Afghanistan. James was the 121st, and it's not just a number."

Ms Munday, who wore a T-shirt bearing a picture of her son in military uniform, added: "There have been many, many more since James was killed, and every time I hear the news when they say 'next of kin have been told', my heart just breaks because I know the devastation that causes. There are now 433 of our soldiers that we've lost and I just want Cameron to bring them home now. Enough is enough."

Also at the protest were the MPs Paul Flynn and Jeremy Corbyn, writer Victoria Britain, musician Brian Eno, aid workers and Afghans who fled the war-torn country.

Asked why the demonstrators had gathered, Eno said: "I think it's to remind the British public that we're still fighting a war that we've effectively admitted that we've lost.

"We probably shouldn't have fought it in the first place, we definitely shouldn't have been fighting it for the past 11 years and there are still casualties every day, and it's not on the front pages any more so everybody's kind of forgotten about it.

"My message (to David Cameron) is that you wouldn't lose face by bringing the troops home. I'm sure any government doesn't want to admit it made a mistake, but it would be the brave thing to do now, to say, 'We've made a mistake here'."

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