Amnesty International has called on the police in London not to bow to “political pressure” to ban this Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march in the city.
The human rights organisation also accused the home secretary, Suella Braverman, of “a dystopian distortion of the truth” for describing such protests as “hate marches”.
Amnesty’s intervention came as the Metropolitan police appeared to be on the brink of banning the march, saying a protest on Armistice Day would be inappropriate and risked violence, and as Conservative MPs brought fresh pressure to bear for the protest to be banned.
However, there was also a divergence from Braverman’s language by the justice secretary, Alex Chalk, who said those taking part included people peacefully expressing their “anguish at the untold suffering” in Gaza.
He told Sky News he did not believe the pro-Palestine march planned for Armistice Day should proceed and called on the organisers to listen to the call from the Met to postpone the demonstration.
He declined to endorse his colleague’s use of the term “hate marches”, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s also fair and reasonable to point out that there will be those on these marches who will not be consumed by illegality, are not calling for jihad and so on.”
Labour, meanwhile, continued to avoid taking an official position on whether the march should be banned as the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said it was an operational consideration for the police.
Cooper declined to say whether she believed the protest should be banned, but told Radio 4’s World at One: “We should support the police in their assessments and not this inflammatory rhetoric which is trying to to provoke people and trying to provoke divisions. Frankly, I think Suella Braverman is making it harder for the police to do their job rather than pulling communities together at a time of remembrance”
After a meeting between organisers of the protest and the Met, a statement was issued by Scotland Yard claiming that “the risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups is growing”.
Saturday’s protest is scheduled to start at 12.45pm at Marble Arch and end at the US embassy in south-west London, about two miles from the Cenotaph, where formal remembrance events will be held the next day.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is organising the event, tweeted on Tuesday morning: “We will protest on Saturday as we have done ever since Israel’s savage assault on Gaza began, killing more than 10,000 people, including nearly 5,000 children.
“Our marches are peaceful, well-organised and a fundamental democratic right. See you on Saturday.”