Corbyn speech disrupted as Peter Tatchell leads protest over Syria

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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on human rights today was disrupted by Peter Tatchell and demonstrators angry over his stance on Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Tatchell and other protesters formed a line in front of Corbyn and held up posters demanding aid drops in Syria and sanctions against Russia shortly after the Labour leader began speaking.

“What is happening in Aleppo is a modern-day Guernica,” said Tatchell, a former Labour parliamentary candidate.

“We expect the leader of the Labour Party to speak up and demand a vote in parliament on UK aid drops.”

It prompted an emotional appeal from Corbyn, who asked Tatchell to let him continue his speech – timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day – and evoked the memory of when they “trod the streets of Bermondsey together 35 years ago”.

Corbyn briefly consulted Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary who was also at the event, while Baroness Chakrabarti appeared to suggest he pause and let the activists complete their demonstration.

“[Thornberry] has made it absolutely clear that we do think there should be aid given to people in Aleppo, we do think the bombing should end, we do think there should be a ceasefire, we do think there should be a political solution, we do think the war should end in Syria.”

Russia has provided supporting air strikes in Syria as Bashar al-Assad wages war on rebel forces opposed to the dictator.

Last month Alison McGovern, a backbencher, used a Commons urgent question to call on the British government to consider an aid drop over Aleppo.

Tatchell fought the Bermondsey constituency for Labour in 1983 when he lost to the Lib Dems but was subject to a bitter campaign widely seen as homophobic. Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem who held the seat for two decades, later apologised for his party’s role in the election.

Tatchell, a veteran gay rights activist, later joined the Green Party.

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