Photos of the activities of the Free Kuwait Campaign in London, UK, August 1990 through March 1991
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The Rallies

For scenes from the rallies, click here.

For those never having organized a rally, imagining the amount of work involved will be hard. Once the theme was agreed on, the day had to be chosen: weekday or weekend? The police always preferred Sundays because of light traffic.

Once the date and time were agreed on, the route was discussed with the always cooperative and helpful Metropolitan Police. They approved of these marches, which whether vocal or silent were always peaceful, dignified, and well organized, and dubbed them the “designer rallies.”

The next job was to print slogans for the posters. These had to be stapled to a board, which in turn was stapled to a long stick creating a sign strong enough to bear the London wind. The largest number of placards made was 4,000, which took over every inch of office space. Visitors must have wondered whether they were at a warehouse rather than an office.

If balloons were to be released, they needed to be ordered and inflated. But first, with an effort requiring numerous faxes, permission had to be obtained from the British Civilian Aviation Authority.

Then the rally had to be publicized by poster, leaflet, newspaper, and word of mouth. Radio and TV were not options as they forbade political ads.

Inviting rally speakers had to be arranged at least a month in advance, especially if they were MPs. A press release was sent 5 days before the rally to all leading newspapers and radio and TV stations so the rally could be covered as news. They were reminded by phone the day before.

 

PA systems had to be hired and set up. To supplement the police presence, FKC marshals had to be appointed and duties assigned.

On the morning of a rally, volunteers packed the signs into the truck of FKC’s printer Sam Bassan. It was driven to the Kuwaiti Embassy, where all major rallies began. The marchers took whichever sign they wished to carry and mingled with long lost friends to catch up on the latest news of Kuwait.

Police and marshals had little to do once the marchers began as they were so disciplined. All the marches were on cold dry days, some so cold that everyone was glad to keep moving. Each march was an intense emotional experience with young, old, handicapped, male, female, Kuwaiti, and non-Kuwaiti participating with equal passion.

A wonderful feeling of unity pervaded the rallies, especially after the final speech when everyone sang the national anthem. There was always a feeling of relief at the end because everything had gone smoothly and the chilled marchers could now find relief from the cold British weather.

But the work did not end there. The signs had to be reloaded into the truck and then unloaded and stored at the office – ready for the next rally.

(Text adapted from Carolyn Tshering, Brief History of Free Kuwait, March 1991.)

 
The FKC “Save the People” March
The FKC “Save the People” March
On January 13, 1991, thousands of Kuwaitis and supporters engaged in their final major march. It ended with a rally in Hyde Park and the release of 3,000 black balloons to symbolize the 300,000 people still suffering inside Kuwait.

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