SCIENTIST Stephen Hawking and London Mayor Ken Livingstone joined a moving ceremony in Trafalgar Square last night to remember thousands of people slaughtered in the illegal Iraq war.
The names of thousands of Iraqis who have died were read out one by one, along with the names of over 1,100 US military dead, 69 British military personnel and many victims from other nations.
Hour after hour, the naming went on as the night descended.
Parents and relatives of dead British soldiers took part, along with Mr Hawking, boxer Chris Eubank, playwright Harold Pinter, actor Juliet Stevenson, Nobel prize-winning nuclear scientist Joseph Rotblatt and many others.
General union T&G general secretary Tony Woodley and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn were among prominent labour movement figures joining the event.
GCHQ spy centre whistle-blower Katherine Gun took part in the reading of names, making her first public appearance since the collapse of her trial under the Official Secrets Act for exposing US and British dirty tricks over the Iraq war.
Rank and file peace activists queued up to join the ceremony.
Similar Naming the Dead ceremonies took place in over 40 towns and cities around Britain, co-ordinated by the Stop the War Coalition to mark the US election.
Events also took place in Australia, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, as well as Baghdad.
Organisers pointed out that they were only able to name a fraction of the estimated 100,000 Iraqi dead, since no proper records have been kept by the occupation forces.
Mayor Livingstone said: "Today, we remember those killed in Iraq as individual people, whether they engaged in combat or, like the many children who have died, were simply the victims of the conflict."
Professor Hawking had recorded a message to be broadcast at the Trafalgar Square event.
However, he then contacted the Stop the War Coalition to say that he wanted to appear in person because he felt so strongly about the conflict.
"We are ecstatic that Professor Hawking has decided to appear in person," said a StWC spokesman. "He represents something very profound in British public life."
Professor Hawking, the author of the best-selling book A Brief History Of Time, is wheelchair-bound as a sufferer of motor neurone disease.
Mr Woodley said: "The civilian casualty toll from this unnecessary conflict may now be as much as 100,000. We should remember these innocent victims of aggression and pledge to ensure that such a war is never fought again."
Mr Corbyn said: "This is a very dignified and poignant reminder of the realities of the occupation of Iraq."
StWC convener Lindsey German said that the event "shows how the people of Britain will not forget the thousands of lives lost so far in the illegal war and occupation of Iraq."
A group of US families of people killed in the September 11 attack on the twin towers sent a message of support for the naming of the dead ceremonies in Britain.
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