Agence France-Presse, New Zealand Herald – 2005-03-20 08:14:58
Global Annti-war day
Times of Oman / Agence France-Presse
LONDON — Tens of thousands of people marched through European cities yesterday, banging drums, waving banners and posters denouncing the “war on terror” on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
In London, pictures of US President George W. Bush under the title “World’s Number One Terrorist” and banners saying “No War in Iran” mingled with others warning British Prime Minister Tony Blair that people would not vote for him in a general election expected in May due to his support for the invasion.
“Hey! Ho! Bush and Blair have got to go!” the protesters chanted as they moved from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, depositing a make-shift black coffin emblazoned with the words “100,000 dead” outside the US Embassy en route.
Some 25,000 people turned out in protest at the Iraq invasion and other elements of the US-led war on terror, according to final police estimates, while the organisers put the figure at up to 150,000.
“This shows that the British people are still very angry about the occupation of Iraq and determined that there should be no more wars in the Middle East with British support,” Andrew Murray, who heads the Stop The War Coalition — the action group that organised the event — said.
In Rome, several thousand people took to the streets, some of them demanding the immediate return of the 3,000 Italian troops in Iraq. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi this week said the troops would start heading home in September, only to backtrack following a phone call from the US president.
Around 1,000 demonstrators also marched from downtown Stockholm to the US Embassy, after listening to speeches by anti-war lawmakers. “Sweden, with its need to export arms, keeps quiet and collaborates,” charged Green Party deputy Lotta Hedstroem.
Police in Athens said 2,000 demonstrators had marched in the city centre, where they attended a rock concert and heard an address by Sue Niederer, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq.
In Poland, where three out of four people oppose the deployment of Polish troops in Iraq, only 500 protesters marched in Warsaw past the US Embassy and the offices of President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
Protests also took place took place in Ankara, Istanbul and Adana, attracting crowds of several hundred. Turkey refused the United States access to the country to attack bordering Iraq ahead of the war.
In New York, police made dozens of arrests as thousands of anti-war demonstrators, some carrying flag-draped coffins, marched yesterday to mark the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
While a crowd of several thousand people gathered for a rally in Manhattan’s Central Park, hundreds more took part in isolated acts of organised civil disobedience that targetted army recruiting stations around the city.
More than 300 demonstrators listened to anti-war speeches near the United Nations and then marched to Times Square, carrying dozens of cardboard coffins draped in black cloth or the American flag.
Around 30 protestors used one coffin to symbolically block the entrance to a military recruiting station in the Square, and then stopped traffic by lying down on Broadway in the heart of the city’s theater district. Police moved in and arrested around two dozen protestors.
“Two years on and Iraq is in even worse shape than it was,” said one marcher, Arlene Ellner, a member of Grandmothers Against the War. “It has a government but no clean water, no electricity, no jobs,” Ellner said. “The longer the troops are there, the more people will be killed.”
The demonstrations, which included protests in other US cities such as Miami and San Francisco, were part of a global day of action that saw tens of thousands march through European cities denouncing the “war on terror.”
“The message hasn’t changed. The troops have to come home,” said Dustin Langley, spokesman for the Troops Out Now Coalition, which put the event together. “This war is not about democracy, it’s about occupation,” said Langley, who denied that the anti-war movement was running out of steam. “It took years to stop the Vietnam war, so we’re in this for the long haul,” he said.
Among the speakers at the rally were a couple of Iraq war veterans, the mothers of several soldiers, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and singer Patti Smith. “We must put everything aside to build a united anti-war movement,” Smith told the crowd. “We must join as a people and not allow ourselves to be divided.”
“A war on poverty, a war on Aids that would be worthwhile, we would give more taxes for that,” said one of the speakers, Paul MacKney, the general secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further Education (NAFTE). “But instead we see 100,000 dead in Iraq. The war has cost £5 billion, military spending is 10 percent of taxes,” he told the crowd assembled at the square to a volley of cheers, drum beats and whistles.
Ray Hewitt, 34, a veteran of the first Gulf War and an army reservist who helped carry the coffin through London, felt the war in Iraq was illegal. “I will have no part of it. I will go to prison before I go to Iraq,” said the soldier, who has refused to be sent back to the Middle East.
People poured into London from across the country, including 58-year-old theatre worker Eileen Murphy who travelled on a coach for five hours from Lancashire, northern England. “I am here to protest that British troops are supporting the Americans in Iraq,” she said, sitting among the campaigners in Trafalgar Square.
Iraq and the war on terror would hurt Blair in the next general election, which is widely expected to be called for May 5, many protesters predicted.
“It was wrong to take the country to war without everyone’s support. That makes me angry,” said Adam Rowberry, just 15, who was handing out green stickers emblazoned with the words “Vote respect”
Reg Keys, a 62-year-old from North Wales who lost his son Thomas in the Iraq war, said he was demonstrating against government lies.
“It is something that you will never get over and the only thing one can do is try and expose the deceit and betrayal. I stand here a betrayed man by my government who lied to me about the need to send my son to war,” he said.
Thomas Keys, a military policeman, died in June 2003, four days ahead of his 21st birthday. — AFP
Demonstrators Protest on Anniversary of Iraq Invasion
Jeremy Lovell / New Zealand Herald
WELLINGTON (March 20, 2005) — Two women have begun a fast outside the US Embassy in Wellington to show their solidarity with the people of Iraq. Hana Plant and Emma Wills were part of a 150-strong demonstration in the capital yesterday.
Twenty protestors have pitched their tents on the lawn nearby. Their protest came as thousands took to the streets across Europe to protest on the second anniversary of the war in Iraq. Hana Plant is the woman who bared her breasts at Prince Charles. Emma Wills was recently arrested at a protest over Wellington’s inner city bypass. They say their hunger strike will last until tomorrow.
Wills, a 20-year-old political science student, said they are fasting in support of victims of US imperialism everywhere. She is condemning what she calls an appalling situation when police made three arrests at a protest at the ANZ Bank in Auckland yesterday. She said police violently silenced a legitimate protest.
Around 300 protesters took to the streets of Auckland yesterday to mark the two-year anniversary of the launch invasion of Iraq.
It began on March 20, 2003.
Yesterday was an International Day of Action organised by the World Social Forum. Workers Against the War on Terror spokesman Dave Bedggood said the war on Iraq still rankles with many, but especially young people. He said three protesters were arrested after arguments with the police and members of the public outside the ANZ Bank in Victoria Street. He said they targeted the ANZ, because they claim it is part of a consortium financing Iraq’s trade. He said they believe the bank is complicit with the continued occupation.
Protestors also gathered outside the US Embassy in Auckland, and smaller protests were held in several places in the inner city. Police say despite the arrests, they are describing the protests as largely incident-free. The protestors dispersed shortly after midday.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have marched through central London calling on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to get his troops out of the country.
Police said 45,000 people were taking part in the march on Saturday which wound from Hyde Park Corner past the American Embassy to a rally in Trafalgar Square. “It is peaceful. There have been no incidents and no arrests,” a police spokesman told Reuters.
The protesters placed a black cardboard coffin with the slogan “100,000 dead” scrawled across the daffodil-strewn lid against a tree in front of the American Embassy. As the coffin was laid down, the crowd chanted: “George Bush … Uncle Sam. Iraq will be your Vietnam.”
Organisers, the Stop the War Coalition, said they had tried but failed to deliver a letter to the embassy insisting that Bush and his staunch ally Blair to pull all their forces out of Iraq. “We demand that you set an early date for the swift withdrawal of our troops from occupied Iraq as the Italian government has been forced to do and restore full and unconditional sovereignty to the Iraqi people,” the letter said.
Blair said on Wednesday he had no intention of an early withdrawal of British troops which are based in the southern part of Iraq around the city of Basra.
Stop the War said it hoped that eventually 250,000 people would join the march, one of many being held around the country and across the world to mark the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
Americans Still Believe Bush’s War Propaganda
John Stauber / PR Watch
The latest ABC News and Washington Post poll of public opinion shows that most Americans still believe, incorrectly of course, that Saddam’s Iraq was supporting with the 9/11 terrorists and had weapons of mass destruction.
Interestingly, the poll’s own analysis tries to downplay the significance of this finding by saying “most Americans favored overthrowing Saddam years earlier, long before al Qaeda became broadly known.” Oh really?
As we document in Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq, the war could never have been sold to the American people had ABC, the Washington Post, and the rest of the mainstream media done their job of standing up to and exposing the false claims of the Bush Administration.
Instead, they became a propaganda arm of Bush administration, echoing the false claims and censoring and ignoring critics of the war.
John Stauber, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy
520 University Avenue #227, Madison, WI 53703. (608)260-9713, Fax: 260-9714. http://www.prwatch.org/
The Darkness Drops Again
William Pitt / TruthOut
(March 17, 2005) — So…to recap:
• Neocon warlord Paul Wolfowitz will head the World Bank;
• The White House illegally puts out fake news reports, and the Justice Department does nothing;
• Another $81 billion of your money and mine is to be poured onto the Iraqi sand;
• The GOP majority in Congress is preparing to trash 200 years of Senate tradition in order to post a number of certifiably insane people to the bench;
• Kevin Martin, a conservative Christian activist for the GOP, will now chair the FCC;
• The Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve, one of the most ecologically pristine areas remaining to us, will be paved and drilled for its tiny amount of petroleum.
And that was just yesterday.
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