Millions of people in about 300 cities all over the world are expected to participate in marches Saturday against a US-led war in Iraq, making the protests the biggest the world has ever seen since the Vietnam War(Alex Wong/Getty Images)...
By Steve Schifferes BBC News Online in Washington. Up to 100,000 protesters are expected to gather at noon on Saturday in New York City near the United Nations to express their opposition to a possible war with Iraq(Alex Wong/Getty Images)...
The world shouts 'No!' to US war plan
AROUND the world, millions of people are expected to take to the streets over the weekend to protest against a war on Iraq, from Vancouver and Mexico City to Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Up to 100,000 people are expected in New York, where Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the actors Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover will address a Manhattan rally. German anti-war groups say 80,000 will gather in Berlin and 20,000 are expected in Dublin today.
In Japan about 6,000 people marched through Tokyo last night and in Australia yesterday at least 150,000 people packed the streets of Melbourne in the countryís biggest peace rally for three decades, when protests were held against the Vietnam War.
The protest was the first in a series of demonstrations planned in Australia in the coming days and Greens senator Bob Brown said the size of the crowd showed Prime Minister John Howard did not have a mandate to take Australia to war against Iraq.
"This is a huge statement by the people of Melbourne, and the people of Australia to John Howard: that heís gone the wrong way and should turn around," Brown told the crowd. "The people of Australia donít see this as our war."
Organisers in Rome are expecting more than one million people to attend todayís peace march. "This is not a political or union rally, this is a mobilisation of feeling," said the organiser Carlo Testini.
German peace organisations say they expected more then 100,000 people to join protests around the country. "People think itís time to finally do something themselves," the organiser Kathrin Vogler said.
In Paris, organisers said they expected move than 50,000 to take to the streets. "All the signs are extremely encouraging," said Arielle Denis, the joint president of the Peace Movement, which is co-ordinating todayís marches in over 40 cities in France.
In Russia, a series of demonstrations are planned, as they are across the United States.
In South Africa, whose President Thabo Mbeki and former president Nelson Mandela have both spoken out strongly against the war, a series of demonstrations are planned.
Up to 500 protesters demonstrated peacefully in Sarajevo, in Bosnia. Carrying banners reading "Disarm USA!" "OILympic Games!", the protesters marched to the US Embassy, for a half hour vigil.
In Antwerp harbour yesterday demonstrators attempted to board cargo ships loaded with US military equipment.
The protesters from Greenpeace used a flotilla of small boats to approach two civilian transport ships in which the US military has been shipping equipment to the Gulf from its bases in Germany.
Crew on board the two ships turned fire hoses on the demonstrators.
"This proposed war is illegal, ill conceived and illegitimate," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace.
The ships were loaded with a range of military equipment including jeeps, trucks and helicopters.
In Brussels today organisers expect 10,000 people to march.
In Manila, the capital of the Philippines, about 6,000 protesters took to the streets to march to the US embassy chanting "US imperialist, No. 1 terrorist". Hundreds of riot police prevented them from occupying the area in front of the compound.
There was a scuffle as the demonstrators tried to break through the police line. Earlier in the day, a small group of women protesters also scuffled with a group of pro-US demonstrators who had occupied a park in front of the embassy.
Looming war on Iraq draws record global protests
Xinhuanet 2003-02-15 10:25:15
LONDON/BEIJING, Feb. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Millions of people in about 300 cities all over the world are expected to participate in marches Saturday against a US-led war in Iraq, making the protests the biggest the world has ever seen since the Vietnam War.
The protests come as the United States and Britain, who intend to launch a war to disarm Iraq if necessary, were under strong criticism in the United Nations Security Council.
British police Friday predicted that the demonstration in London alone would attract around 500,000 people while the organizers said the numbers could be higher and even reach 1 million, making it Britain's largest-ever protest.
The 3.5-mile (5.6-km) march in London will start at noon and culminate in a rally at Hyde Park where London Mayor Ken Livingstone, former US presidential candidate the Reverend Jesse Jackson and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger are expected to make speeches.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are planning to start simultaneous marches in Northern Ireland's capital city Belfast and Scottish city Glasgow, where British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to give a final speech to wrap up Labor Party conference at that time.
In Rome, organizers also predicted that at least half a million demonstrators will take to the streets for the marches while other major marches are planned for Dublin, San Francisco, Tokyo, Bangkok and a series of European cities.
German anti-war groups said they expected more than 100,000 people to take to the streets around the country while organizers in Paris said they estimated more than 50,000 protesters are to take part.
Australian protesters kicked off the global series of the weekend anti-war marches. Australian Green Senator Bot Brown estimated that more than 200,000 people rallied in Melbourne Friday carrying placards reading, "No blood for oil" and "Don't bomb Iraq."
An estimated 6,000 people marched Friday night in Tokyo and a similar number to the US Embassy in the Philippine capital, Manila.
Anti-war sentiment has even reached the tiny South Pacific island nation of Fiji, where an anti-war group sent floral messages to foreign embassies urging them to put pressure on the United States and its allies to avoid war.
The upcoming protests in Britain are organized by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain.
"This is a chance for people to show what they really think about this war," said spokesman Andrew Burgin of the Stop the War Coalition, which hopes the size of the demonstration will send a message to the prime minister.
"They will be saying: 'Tony, don't go to war. You don't have the support of the people who elected you'," said Burgin.
Blair's office said in a statement Friday that the prime minister "respected the views" of those joining the march but suggested the gesture would make little difference to government policy.
"The way to prevent any military conflict is for Saddam Hussein to cooperate and fulfill his obligations as set out by the whole of the international community as embodied by the United Nations,"the statement said.
All police leave in the capital has been canceled and 3,500 officers drafted in from the Met, the City of London force and British Transport Police to control the event.
Despite Spanish support for the US stance on the Iraq crisis, thousands of high school and college students launched an anti-war protest Thursday in Barcelona, demanding that authorities channel resources used for the armed forces into education.
Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 01:24 GMT
US joins anti-war protests
By Steve Schifferes
BBC News Online in Washington Up to 100,000 protesters are expected to gather at noon on Saturday in New York City near the United Nations to express their opposition to a possible war with Iraq.
They will hear speeches from politicians, church leaders and entertainers, including the actress Susan Saradon, singer Harry Belafonte, and South African bishop Desmond Tutu.
And they be joined by some families of the victims of the attack on the World Trade Centre, marching as "9/11 families for peace."
But they will not be marching past the UN building itself.
Last week a judge banned that march (although not the rally) after the police said that, with the terrorist threat, they could not ensure order.
Over 300 buses and four special trains will bring demonstrators from across America to the rally, with another rally planned for the West Coast in San Francisco on Sunday.
The march leaders say they are coordinating action worldwide, with protests in 600 cities across the globe.
"Our voices will be heard as we make our contribution to this unprecedented day of international anti-war activism," said organiser Leslie Cagan.
Europe in the lead
The US demonstrations are likely to be smaller than the mass anti-war rally in Washington in January, with organisers admitting that at the moment Europe is taking the lead.
But US public opinion is still divided on the war, despite the barrage of evidence and testimony by US leaders over the last few weeks.
According to the latest opinion polls, three-quarters of Americans now expect a war and two-thirds approve of war as a option.
But the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows that 56% say that the US should seek UN approval before going to war, and 59% want to give the inspectors more time.
And there is no majority for military action if there were likely to be high casualties or a long war.
Mr Bush's overall poll ratings have continued to decline, with many people more worried about the economy or the threat of domestic terrorism.
Meanwhile, the US anti-war movement has fanned out around the country, urging cities to pass anti-war resolutions.
Over 90 have responded, including the third-largest city, Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, and Philadelphia - although such resolutions failed in Minneapolis and Portland.
This week, representatives of 30 of these cities travelled to Washington to warn that the financial crisis that was gripping many cities and states would be made worse by the war.
And five Congressmen, led by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, plan to file suit in a Federal Court to block the President from going to war without another Congressional resolution.
While the US anti-war movement does not have the political support it does in Europe - and with many Democrats cautious about identifying themselves too closely with it - it is clear that there is still a vigorous public debate about a possible war going on.
A weekend of protests in Europe
The New York Times
Saturday, February 15, 2003
LONDON In London and Paris, in Berlin, Moscow and other cities, hundreds of thousands of protesters are set to march this weekend in what could be among the biggest coordinated peace demonstrations in European history. London's could be the most telling.In some places, like Paris and Berlin, protesters will be marching in step with governments opposed to the United States-led drive to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. But in other capitals, including London, the marchers will be lambasting their own rulers for supporting Washington. The magnitude of the protests could weaken or strengthen claims to legitimacy at a European summit meeting on Monday. A huge turn-out in London could undermine Prime Minister Tony Blair, denying him support from his own country for his pro-war position. Mass marches in Paris and Berlin could strengthen the claims of President Jacques Chirac of France and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, both of whom oppose armed intervention, that they are being responsive to the people who elected them.
"Tomorrow the world will say no to war in rallies across the globe," said Andrew Murray, the head of the Stop the War Coalition, in a British newspaper article published on Friday. "But London will be the most important because ours is the war leader who can be broken. And if he remains deaf to a nation's plea for peace, he will be."
Britain, moreover, is Washington's main European ally, having committed 40,000 troops to join American forces in the Gulf far, more than any other European nation. Thus, Britain is central to the U.S. administration's desire not be to seen to be acting alone.
"We feel that in Britain that we do have the historic responsibility," said Lindsey German, another leader of the Stop the War Coalition, which was formed after Sept. 11, 2001, as a grouping of hundreds of organizations from pro-Palestinian Muslims to hardcore left-wingers with a leavening of pacifists, politicians, celebrities, environmentalists, intellectuals and labor unionists. "If Blair did change his mind, Bush would find it very difficult to go to war. People in the United States are very reluctant to go to war without allies," German said, referring to President George W. Bush.
Blair and Bush have become so close in the eyes of many Britons that The Daily Mirror, a sponsor of Saturday's march, ran a doctored Valentine's Day front page photograph showing Blair and Bush kissing in a heart-shaped frame with a headline that read, "Make Love not War."
The breadth of the coalition has made some people uneasy about marching alongside organizations with different long-term aims. One of the slogans of the London march is "Freedom for Palestine," which raises fears among some protesters that the march will be seen as anti-Israeli or anti-semitic. "What we have always said is that this is a criticism of the state of Israel, not a criticism of Jewish people," German said.
"These are not permanent alliances," said Assam Tamimi, a Palestinian organizer. "These are alliances on issues where we might find common ground with the left, the far left even, like foreign policy, Palestine and Iraq. We don't see eye to eye on many other issues."
"The coalition is about stopping the war on terrorism, the war that Bush launched," German said. Will that give succor to Saddam ? That is not the intention, German said, but "if Saddam Hussein feels that he's in a stronger position after tomorrow, the British government has only got itself to blame." The breadth of the alliance is one reason why organizers are anticipating a big turn-out, more than the 400,000 who marched last year to support hunters and other rural Britons against the government and possibly more than 500,000.
There is also a sense that many people who would not usually march in protest have decided to do so this time, reflecting a wider unease.
At least 150,000 people packed the streets of Melbourne on Friday to protest Australia's possible involvement in any U.S.-led attack on Iraq, The Associated Press reported. It was the country's biggest peace rally in three decades ago, since the Vietnam War.
Police estimated that 150,000 people participated, while organizers put the crowd at 200,000.
Bob Brown, a senator from the Green Party, said the size of the crowd showed Prime Minister John Howard did not have a mandate to take Australia to war against Iraq. "This is a huge statement by the people of Melbourne, and the people of Australia to John Howard: that he's gone the wrong way and should turn around," Brown told the crowd. "The people of Australia don't see this as our war."
Howard is a staunch supporter of Bush's tough line against Saddam who has already sent 2,000 military personnel to the Persian Gulf to prepare for a possible conflict. He has said he has not yet decided whether Australian troops would actually join a U.S. attack.
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