Manchester ‘Flash mob’ protest over airport

23.9.2008   (Manchester Evening News)

PROTEST groups descended on the Labour Party conference to oppose the expansion
of Manchester Airport and raise support for ex-British Gurkha soldiers.

A flash mob, from the new environmental pressure group Stop Expansion at Manchester
Airport (SEMA), staged a colourful protest to coincide with the fringe debate
‘Can politicians save the planet and get re-elected?’

About 100 protesters, with support from London campaigners opposed to the expansion
of Heathrow airport, removed coats and jumpers to reveal bright red protest T-shirts
outside Manchester town hall.

Bemused passers-by stopped and stared as protesters spelt out the words ‘take
the trains’.

SEMA protester Robbie Gillett said the ‘colourful expression’ was designed to
surprise unsuspecting passers-by and highlight the ‘madness’ of plans that would
see the number of passengers double to 50 million a year by 2030.

The 22-year-old Manchester University student told the MEN: “It is madness to
be expanding airports when the threat of climate change is hanging over us. Manchester
airport is already responsible for the same amount of CO2 emissions in one year
as the entire economy of Uganda.”

Campaigners from Manchester Friends of the Earth presented transport minister
Ruth Kelly MP with an aeroplane covered in postcards from her constituents urging
her not to ignore aviation.

Manchester Friends of the Earth lead climate campaigner, Ali Abbas, said: “Having
a climate law that ignores emissions from aviation is like having a drink driving
law that ignores alcohol from vodka – it clearly doesn’t make any sense.

Also protesting outside the town hall, 50 members and supporters of the Gurkha
Army Ex-serviceman Organisation (GAESO), protesting at the treatment of ex-British
Gurkha soldiers and their families.

GAESO are also raising support for the Immigration (Discharged Gurkha) Bill,
currently pending in Parliament.

Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, a GAESO spokesman, said: “We are here to fight for settlement
rights and to put pressure on the government. We hope to allow all Gurkha’s from
Nepal to come to Britain.”

link to article