Reports of World-wide Anti-War Protests

17 February 2003

15 February 2003
Anti-war protesters hold global rallies
USA Today


Protesters march against a US-led war on Iraq in New York City.
By Shawn Baldwin, AP

LONDON (AP) Millions of protesters many of them marching in the capitals of America's traditional allies demonstrated Saturday against possible U.S. plans to attack Iraq.

The protests that started Friday in Australia continued through the weekend with a massive Sunday demonstration of more than 100,000 people in Sydney. The protests were the biggest in Australia since the Vietnam War three decades ago.

In a global outpouring of anti-war sentiment, Rome claimed the biggest turnout 1 million according to police, while organizers claimed three times that figure.

In London, at least 750,000 people demonstrated in what police called the city's largest demonstration ever. In Spain, several million people turned out at anti-war rallies in about 55 cities and towns across the country, with more than 500,000 each attending rallies in Madrid and Barcelona.

Spanish police gauged the Madrid turnout at 660,000. Organizers claimed nearly 2 million people gathered across the nation in one of the biggest demonstrations since the 1975 death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

More than 70,000 people marched in Amsterdam in the largest Netherlands demonstration since anti-nuclear rallies of the 1980s.

Berlin had up to half-a-million people on the streets, and Paris was estimated to have had about 100,000.

In New York, rally organizers estimated the crowd at up to 500,000 people. City police provided no estimate of the crowd, which stretched 20 blocks deep and two blocks wide.

"Peace! Peace! Peace!" Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said while leading an ecumenical service near U.N. headquarters. "Let America listen to the rest of the world and the rest of the world is saying, 'Give the inspectors time.'"

In Los Angeles, thousands of chanting marchers filled Hollywood Boulevard from curb to curb for four blocks. Organizers estimated the crowd at 100,000, although police put it at 30,000.

London's marchers hoped in the words of keynote speaker the Rev. Jesse Jackson to "turn up the heat" on Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush's staunchest European ally for his tough Iraq policy.

Rome protesters showed their disagreement with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's support for Bush, while demonstrators in Paris and Berlin backed the skeptical stances of their governments.

"What I would say to Mr. Blair is stop toadying up to the Americans and listen to your own people, us, for once," said Elsie Hinks, 77, who marched in London with her husband, Sidney, a retired Church of England priest.

Tommaso Palladini, 56, who traveled from Milan to Rome, said, "You don't fight terrorism with a preventive war. You fight terrorism by creating more justice in the world."

Several dozen marchers from Genoa held up pictures of Iraqi artists.

"We're carrying these photos to show the other face of the Iraqi people that the TV doesn't show," said Giovanna Marenzana, 38.

Some leaders in German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government participated in the Berlin protest, which turned the tree-lined boulevard between the Brandenburg Gate and the 19th-century Victory Column into a sea of banners, balloons emblazoned with "No war in Iraq" and demonstrators swaying to live music. Police estimated the crowd at between 300,000 and 500,000.

"We Germans in particular have a duty to do everything to ensure that war above all a war of aggression never again becomes a legitimate means of policy," shouted Friedrich Schorlemmer, a Lutheran pastor and former East German pro-democracy activist.

In the Paris crowd at the Place Denfert-Rochereau, a large American flag bore the black inscription, "Leave us alone."

Gerald Lenoir, 41, of Berkeley, Calif., came to Paris to support demonstrators.

"I am here to protest my government's aggression against Iraq," he said. "Iraq does not pose a security threat to the United States and there are no links with al-Qaeda."

In southern France, about 10,000 people demonstrated in Toulouse against the United States, chanting: "They bomb, they exploit, they pollute, enough of this barbarity."

Police estimated that 60,000 turned out in Oslo, Norway; 50,000 in bitter cold in Brussels; and about 35,000 in frigid Stockholm, Sweden.

About 80,000 marched in Dublin, Irish police said. Crowds were estimated at 60,000 in Seville, Spain; 40,000 in Bern, Switzerland; 30,000 in Glasgow, Scotland; 25,000 in Copenhagen, Denmark; 15,000 in Vienna, Austria; more than 20,000 in Montreal and 15,000 in Toronto; 5,000 in Cape Town and 4,000 in Johannesburg in South Africa; 5,000 in Tokyo; and 2,000 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

"War is not a solution, war is a problem," Czech philosopher Erazim Kohak told about 500 people in Prague, the Czech Republic.

In Mexico City, as many as 10,000 people including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu snarled traffic for blocks before rallying near the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy. Demonstrators beat drums, clutched white balloons and waved handmade signs saying, "War No, Peace Yes."

In Baghdad, tens of thousands of Iraqis, many carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, demonstrated to support leader Saddam Hussein and denounce the United States.

"Our swords are out of their sheaths, ready for battle," read one of hundreds of banners carried by marchers along Palestine Street, a broad Baghdad avenue.

In Damascus, the capital of neighboring Syria, an estimated 200,000 protesters chanted anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli slogans while marching to the People's Assembly.

Najjah Attar, a former Syrian cabinet minister, accused Washington of attempting to change the region's map.

"The U.S. wants to encroach upon our own norms, concepts and principles," she said in Damascus. "They are reminding us of the Nazi and fascist times."

An estimated 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians marched together against war in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

In Ukraine, some 2,000 people rallied in snowy Kiev's central square. Anti-globalists led a peaceful "Rock Against War" protest joined by communists, socialists, Kurds and pacifists.

In divided Cyprus, about 500 Greeks and Turks braved heavy rain to briefly block a British air base runway.

Several thousand protesters in Athens, Greece, unfurled a giant banner across the wall of the Acropolis "NATO, U.S. and EU equals War" before heading toward the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller said the Greek protesters' indignation was misplaced.

"They should be demonstrating outside the Iraqi embassy," he said before the march.

About 900 Puerto Ricans chanted anti-war slogans against the possible invasion of Iraq. One man waved a U.S. flag on which the stars were replaced with skulls.

In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began efforts to unite South American nations against a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq. Police estimated 1,500 marchers.


February 16, 2003
Groundswell of dissent encircles the globe
The Independent (UK)

From Auckland to Amsterdam, from Rio to Rome, millions of citizens poured on to the streets to make their voices heard By David Randall in London, Peter Popham in Rome and Ruth Elkins in Berlin

Millions of people around the world poured on to the streets of their towns and cities yesterday to protest against the prospect of a US-led war on Iraq.

The worldwide tidal wave of protest began in New Zealand and rolled around the globe, gathering, as it went, momentum, enthusiasm and a sense of being part of a universal movement. The largest turnout was in Rome, where organisers claimed an attendance of three million. By the end of the weekend, demonstrations will have been held in more than 600 places from Auckland to Iceland, and San Francisco to South Korea.

In Auckland, marchers cheered as a plane flew overhead trailing a giant banner which read: "No War, Peace Now". In Australia, where 150,000 had demonstrated in Melbourne the day before, 16,000 activists marched in Canberra, 10,000 in Perth, and 15,000 in Newcastle, north of Sydney.

There were further marches in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, East Timor, Pakistan, Taipei, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. Some of those involved were experienced veterans of protest, but many were taking their first uncertain steps on a protest march. Mariko Aoyama, who described herself as a Tokyo housewife, said: "What the United States is doing now is wrong. We are on the brink of World War Three."

The only trouble was in Athens, where several hundred anarchist protesters broke away from the tens of thousands on the main rally, smashed windows, threw a gasoline bomb at a news office and overturned a car. Riot police cordoned off the city's US embassy.

In South Africa, thousands marched in Cape Town and Johannesburg, where Ivan Abrahams, a Methodist minister, said: "We are saying to Bush, you are not the saviour of the world, and we will not bow down to you."

In the Middle East the protests were more muted, but even so, in Damascus 200,000 marched through the streets. In Baghdad, the crowds were strongly encouraged by the extensive military presence around the demonstration. "At times the fervour was almost messianic: as if in a kind of ritualistic tribal worship," Independent on Sunday reporter James McGowan observed.

Europe's demonstrations began in sub-zero temperatures in Russia and in Kiev in the Ukraine, and spread, via Berlin, to dozens of cities across the continent, including Amsterdam, Budapest, Lyon, Marseilles, Sofia, Brussels, Stuttgart, Toulouse, Thessaloniki, Warsaw, Bern, Paris and Copenhagen.

In Mostar, Bosnia, Muslims and Croats united for an anti-war protest, the first such cross-community action in seven years in a place where ethnic divisions still remain strong. And in Cyprus, Turks and Greeks marched together, briefly blocking a runway at a British airbase. In Tel Aviv, too, usual conflicts were forgotten as Israelis and Palestinians marched side by side against a war.

In Rome, a vast, dazzlingly colourful tide of people estimated by the organisers to number three million swamped the city yesterday afternoon, practically encircling the ancient heart and uniting monks and nuns, communists and anarchists and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Italians in protest against the policies of Bush and Blair.

"Stop the war" read a huge banner on the stage at march's conclusion on Piazza San Giovanni above a blow- up of Picasso's Guernica. Air-raid sirens wailed above Rome's streets in a reminder of the war fears agitating this country which today has a Muslim population approaching one million.

One reason for the massive numbers was the strong support given by the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, to the American line. But the Vatican's outspoken opposition to the war has sent tremors through Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

In Berlin, the biggest peace demonstration seen by Germany for 20 years brought much of the capital to a standstill. More than 350,000 people - more than three times as many as organisers had expected - took part in an event which culminated in a mass rally at Berlin's victory column, near the Brandenburg Gate.

In France up to 400,000 people, many carrying posters denouncing US President Bush as a "warmonger" and chanting anti-American slogans, marched through Paris and 50 other cities. Gerald Lenoir, 41, of Berkley, California, said he came to Paris, where 100,000 marched, specifically to demonstrate alongside the French. "I am here to protest my government's aggression against Iraq," he said. "Iraq does not pose a security threat to the States and there are no links with al-Qa'ida."

As night fell in London, no fewer than 15 marches were underway in Brazil, nearly a million were demonstrating in Madrid, and an expected 100,000-plus were beginning to assemble in New York.


  16 February 2003
Sydney rallies against war on Iraq

Australians are cynical about US intentions in Iraq

Hundred of thousands of people are attending a huge protest against a possible US-led war in Iraq in the Australian city of Sydney.

It is the latest in a series of an estimated 600 peace rallies around the world this weekend which around eight million people so far have attended.

Saturday saw massive marches in New York, Rome, London, Paris, Berlin and many other cities worldwide.

The Australian Government strongly backs US President George W Bush's tough line on Iraq.

But the Sydney protest is the largest seen in the city since the days of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, and the BBC correspondent there says there is deep cynicism among the crowds about American intentions in pursuing Saddam Hussein.

Howard unmoved

An estimated 250,000 people are thought to be present at Sydney's march, with marchers - many middle-aged with children - waving banners, banging drums and chanting protest songs.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard
I don't know that you can measure public opinion just by the number of people who turn up to demonstrations
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
"We want our prime minister to listen to us, we don't want war with Iraq," marcher Thomas Aitken told Reuters news agency.

Mr Howard returned from Indonesia on Sunday, where he had reiterated his support for military action against Iraq.

He remained resolute in his support of the US-British tough stance on the use of force against Saddam Hussein's regime , dismissing the demonstrations as not reflective of public opinion.

"I don't know that you can measure public opinion just by the number of people who turn up to demonstrations," he told an Australian television channel.

Mr Howard is also being confronted with protests in Brisbane, Darwin and Adelaide on Sunday.

'Not too late'

An estimated one million people marched in London on Saturday to show opposition to Prime Minister Tony Blair, who - like Australia's John Howard - is a close ally of President Bush.

The weekend of demonstrations come after Friday's UN Security Council session, where chief weapons inspector Hans Blix issued a largely positive assessment of the UN's disarmament process in Iraq.

Addressing a massive crowd in Hyde Park, London mayor Ken Livingstone said: "This is all Britain standing together regardless of age, race or sex".

"This war is solely about oil. George Bush has never given a damn about human rights," he said.

The protesters marched under a sea of multi-coloured banners and slogans such as "No War On Iraq" and "Make Tea, Not War".

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has suffered a fall in popularity following his staunch support of US plans to launch military action against Saddam Hussein.

In New York, celebrities and activists such as Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and black activist Angela Davis attended a peace rally near the United Nations headquarters.

Mr Tutu, addressing an estimated crowd of at least 100,000 people, said that those who wished to wage war on Iraq "must know it would be an immoral war".

Middle East anger

Demonstrations were also held in cities across the Middle East, including Israel, and in East Asia on Saturday.

Hundreds of demonstrators hit the streets of Seoul, South Korea
In a rare sign of unity, 3,000 Jews and Arabs marched together in Tel Aviv.

Officials reported at least one million people marched in the streets of Baghdad, while in the Syrian capital of Damascus more than 200,000 people marched, with one banner carrying the slogan "Axis of Evil: America, Britain, Israel".

In Seoul - capital of South Korea, one of the staunchest US allies in Asia - hundreds of demonstrators rallied, shouting chants such as "Bush, Terrorist!" and carrying banners urging "Drop Bush, not bombs".

In Malaysia - a predominantly Muslim state - hundreds demonstrated outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur, despite a police ban on the demonstration.

Officers eventually persuaded the crowd to move on peacefully while colleagues in riot gear stood by.

And in Thailand about 2,000 people - mostly Muslims - rallied in front of the US and UK embassies in the capital on Saturday.


  16 February 2003
'Million' march against Iraq war

Anti-war protesters at Hyde Park rally
Some marchers took hours to reach Hyde Park

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to voice their opposition to military action against Iraq.

Police said it was the UK's biggest ever demonstration with at least 750,000 taking part, although organisers put the figure closer to two million.

There were also anti-war gatherings in Glasgow and Belfast - all part of a worldwide weekend of protest with hundreds of rallies and marches in up to 60 countries.

They came as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a speech warning of "bloody consequences" if Iraq was not confronted, directly addressed those marching.

He did not "seek unpopularity as a badge of honour", he said, "but sometimes it is the price of leadership and the cost of conviction".

Shortly after he spoke, at around midday GMT, a tide of banner-waving protesters began surging through central London.

They cheered, shouted, sounded horns and banged drums, waving signs with slogans 'No War On Iraq' and 'Make Tea, Not War'.

Contingents arrived in the capital from about 250 cities and towns across the UK.

The three-and-a-half mile march - organised by Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Muslim Association of Britain - was started early by police, over concern at the number of people gathering.

Two separate meeting points were used before the streams converged in Piccadilly Circus and made their way to Hyde Park for a rally.

Christian message

Organiser John Rees said the turnout had been fantastic with an "electric atmosphere but also very serious and determined".

Leading the demonstrators into the park was Italian student Giancarlo Suella, 29, who held a banner reading: 'Bush And Blair, A Good Christian Will Never Kill'.

He said: "I came to England to make my point to Mr Blair, it's hard to believe what he is doing."

All police leave in the capital was cancelled for the event but Scotland Yard said it passed off almost without incident.

There were a handful of arrests for minor mostly public order offences, but later four anti-war activists were arrested after more than 20 people held a sit-down protest at Piccadilly Circus.

The protesters - who were part of the Voices in the Wilderness UK pressure group - were taken to a local police station and the road was reopened at 2015 GMT.

Andy Todd, assistant deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said the crowd had been tolerant and patient and "the biggest I have experienced."

The police estimate of 750,000 people could be an underestimation due to people bypassing official routes or going straight to Hyde Park without joining the main march.

At the rally, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy told the crowd he was not persuaded by the case for war.

With "misleading" evidence provided by the government, "it's no wonder that people are scared and confused", he said.

High profile speakers

Former US presidential candidate the Rev Jesse Jackson also spoke and led the crowd chanting "give peace a chance, keep hope alive".

Among other high-profile supporters were writer Tariq Ali, ex-minister Mo Mowlam, London's mayor Ken Livingstone, actress Vanessa Redgrave, human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger and former MP Tony Benn.

Playwright Harold Pinter made a rare public speech, saying America was "a country run by a bunch of criminal lunatics with Tony Blair as a hired Christian thug".

Hollywood actor Tim Robbins, also attending, told BBC News the crowds were "what democracy looks like".

If Mr Bush and Mr Blair ignored them "they are not rightful leaders of a democracy", he said.

There was one gesture of support for military action to remove Saddam Hussein elsewhere in London during the rally.

Writer Jacques More, 44, from Croydon, south London, stood with a placard outside the Iraqi section of the Jordanian embassy in central London, saying that although a last resort war was necessary "when evil dictators rule and murder their own people".

See: UK protests
And: More pictures and opinions from the march
Also: GN Report


  16 February 2003
NYC peace rally 'tremendous success'
By Susannah Price
BBC correspondent in New York

Demonstrators stretched as far as the eye could see

A huge crowd gathered in New York for the largest demonstration against the war in Iraq in the US.

The organisers were clearly delighted at the turnout which they said was far more than double their original estimate of 100,000.

The police would not comment on the numbers.

There was a huge variety of demonstrators who stretched down First Avenue as far as the eye could see, wrapped up warmly against the freezing weather.

They carried banners proclaiming "Not in our name" and "Peace is patriotic", and chanted and banged drums.

Ensuring the future

Some were veteran campaigners, such as the Reverend George Houser, a civil rights worker who was imprisoned for being a conscientious objector during World War Two.
Protesters holding placards in New York Protesters came from all walks of life

"We think the US is very wrong on this one," he said.

"This is not the first time but it's the worst time; we have an administration that is going crazy."

The campaigners came from a wide variety of groups, religious workers, students and political activists and many arrived on specially organised buses and trains.

Charlene Leahey from New Jersey said she wanted to ensure her daughter had a future.

"I'm appalled by the Bush administration's attempt to unleash the fiercest firing squad ever on defenceless people," she said.

'An immoral war'

More than 50 speakers addressed the rally, including Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"It would be an immoral war," said Archbishop Tutu, who drew rousing cheers.

"Those who are going to be killed in Iraq are not collateral damage, they are human beings of flesh and blood."

The Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, who also made a speech, told reporters afterwards she believed the war would be destabilising and destructive for the whole world.

"President Bush said at the beginning you are with us or against us but that is not the American way," she said.

"Today you are seeing what democracy looks like."

'A tremendous success'

The organisers, United for Peace and Justice, had planned to march past the United Nations headquarters where the Security Council remains deeply divided on the issue of Iraq.

But a judge banned any march on security grounds, so the stationary rally was held a few blocks north of the UN building.

The police were on every street corner in the area around the rally and had put up barricades to block several access streets.

However the demonstrators spilled onto adjoining streets.

There were no reports of any violence.

"It's been a tremendous success," said one of the main coordinators, Lesley Cagan.

"The message is loud and clear to George Bush, we don't want a war and we will do everything we can to stop it happening."


  17 February 2003
San Francisco ends world peace rallies

Stars joined the protesters in San Francisco

At least 150,000 people marched in San Francisco on Sunday, at the end of a weekend of global demonstrations.

Rallies and marches have been held in hundreds of towns and cities worldwide, attracting millions of people opposed to a US-led war against Iraq.

Earlier in the day, a quarter of a million people demonstrated in the Australian city of Sydney - the biggest peace rally there since the Vietnam War.

Saturday saw huge protests in Berlin, London, Madrid, New York, Paris and Rome.

A big rally was also staged on Saturday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, where state media have given blanket coverage to the anti-war demonstrations around the world.

And on Sunday a ceremony was held to inaugurate a memorial for more than 400 people Iraq says were killed when US missiles hit the Amariya bomb shelter in February 1991.

'Catastrophic path'

The San Francisco protest had been delayed by a day to avoid clashing with the Chinese New Year parade.

Writer Alice Walker, actor Danny Glover, and singers Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez joined the crowds in the city.

"Finally it seems there is a worldwide movement saying this is obviously a catastrophic path we're on," said protester Deborah Hoffmann.

"There are a million people around the globe who have shown they feel the same way," said Bonnie Raitt.

The streets around the United Nations headquarters were packed with crowds, claimed by organisers to be well in excess of the 100,000 demonstrators they had hoped for.

Activists, trade unionists, students and church groups were among those taking part, bearing banners with slogans such as "Give Peace a Chance " and "No Blood for Oil".

Among those attending the rally were celebrities and activists such as Susan Sarandon, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Angela Davis.

Mr Tutu told the crowd that those who wished to wage war on Iraq "must know it would be an immoral war".

Demonstrations were also held in scores of other towns and cities across the US and Canada.

The weekend of demonstrations followed Friday's UN Security Council session, where chief weapons inspector Hans Blix issued a largely positive assessment of the UN's disarmament efforts in Iraq.


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