York against the war prepare for the next vigil.
6:21am 6th January 2011
The new year has opened with the death of one more British soldier in Afghanistan.
Total British deaths since 2001 now stand at 349.
The deaths of soldiers just before and just after Christmas were especially poignant and horrifying, but every such death is terrible: in a real sense the end of the world for family and friends. As well as those killed, many more soldiers are very seriously wounded, meanwhile Afghan men, women and children suffer and die in far greater numbers than our own troops.
We respect the courage of these young soldiers who go out daily on foot patrol, well aware of the dangers they face. We admire the quiet stoicism of their families who live with the same terrible knowledge. We wish we could believe it was all worth while, but very sadly we can't.
The official story is still that our troops are staying on till they can defeat the "insurgent" Afghans, and leave other Afghans enlisted in the country's army "responsible" for their own defence. In reality it seems clear that the chief aim of US, UK and other governments involved is to find a way to withdraw as soon as possible without losing face. While they struggle to save their reputations our soldiers keep on dying, and in a time of cuts and austerity millions of pounds are spent each day on a war that cannot be won.
It is our custom to hold a vigil to mark each fiftieth death of a British soldier in Afghanistan. Sadly, we do not think the next, and 350th, death will be long delayed. Our vigil will take place on the next weekday after the death is announced, and will be held from 5.00pm to 6.00pm below York city walls opposite the railway station (Cholera Burial Ground) - unless the vigil falls on a Saturday, when it will be combined with our usual Saturday stall from 1.00pm to 3.00pm in Parliament Street.
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