March 20 2004: 2 Million People Around the World Still Says No To War and Occupations!
NEWS FROM UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
Over Two Million People Take to the Streets Around the World in
NEW YORK, NY--On Saturday, March 20, upwards of 2 million people
took to the
The March 20 global day of protest surpassed the expectations of
In the United States, notable protests included a 100,000-person
In Rome, one million people took to the streets, in the largest single
"The unprovoked war against Iraq was a terrible tragedy for
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), which initiated the call for
A complete list of cities that held protest events on March 20 can
By our latest count, there were more than 575 protests around the
world against war and occupation today, on the one-year anniversary
of the Iraq War. More than 300 events took place in the United States,
including a march and rally in New York City that drew an estimated
100,000 participants. Taken together, today's events mark one of the
largest ever outpourings of grassroots action for peace -- congratulations
to everyone who helped make today's global day of action such a powerful
3) M20 Protests All Around The World
(Independent Media Center)
Protests have taken place all around the globe, both on March 19, the actual anniversary of the invasion, as well as March 20--the anniversary of worldwide protests against the war.
In Iraq, a demonstration took place in Baghdad in tandem with protests around the world against the violence of the occupation. The protest was also a powerful show of unity between Sunni and Shia muslims. The marches started with the Shia's in Khadamiya, and the Sunni's across the river in Adamiya. The two groups met just as the Shia's came over the bridge, and emotions were high as they merged into one. They then walked for together to a public square where speakers denounced the occupation and called for unity between all Iraqis.
Protest Coverage Around the World:
US: San Francisco M19 [ photos/story
] SF M20 [ photos
] Portland M20 [ photos
] New York [ photos
] Crawford, Texas [ photos
] Pittsburg, PA [ photos
] San Diego [ photos
Live streaming audio from the streets:
Oceania / East Asia: M20 Anti-War Protests - 20 Mar 2004
Although turnouts were not as great as the February 2003 massive rallies against war, thousands of people across Oceania have participated in anti-war protests and peace marches to mark the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Protests occured around Aotearoa (New Zealand) and included an anti-Occupation Action in Wellington (speech, Photos 1, 2)and a protest in Christchurch and many more smaller protests. In Australia, several thousand people protested in both Melbourne (Report, Photos), and Sydney (1, 2). A thousand people rallied in Brisbane, 200 in Perth, and smaller protests in Canberra and Hobart and other regional centres.
In the Philippines a Candlelight protest was held on Friday night and a further protest in Manila on Saturday where over 1000 people were attacked by fire hoses (Photos). More than fifty East Timorese people and a number of internationals protested in Dili outside the US Embassy in regard to the occupation of Iraq.
Other protests occurred in Tokyo, Japan where organisers estimated
30,000 people protested the Japanese involvement in sending members
of the Self Defence Force to Iraq. In Seoul, Korea about 1,500 mostly
young college students staged a peaceful anti-war demonstration. In
Thailand, dozens of people protested in front of the American and
British embassies in the capital Bangkok, protesting the deployment
of 450 Thai troops in Iraq. Demonstrations also occurred in Hong Kong,
and in New Delhi in India.
5) From Spain, Eyes Turn to Italy
From the IPS Team
ROME, Mar 20 (IPS) - Spain and Italy saw some of the biggest demonstrations Saturday to mark a year since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Spain saw a spillover of protests that have never quite died out since the train bombings in Madrid March 11 left more than 200 dead and 1,400 wounded.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protested in Spain, and if the demonstrations were not even bigger, that could be due partly to demonstrations fatigue, and also because Spain had a chance to express itself through elections, and make it matter.
But despite a week of protests, demonstrations were again strong across Spain. Anti-war demonstrations were held in the Andalusian city of Seville at mid-day. Demonstrators carried a banner that read: "For all the victims, get the occupation troops out". An estimated 40,000 joined the march. Big protest meetings were held later in Madrid and in other cities.
Italy saw a massive turnout of protesters. About 250,000 came out to demonstrate in Rome, according to localauthorities. Organisers said the number was closer to two million.
That led to questions about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Was he headed the same way as former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar? If the Italians could have voted Saturday, few would bet it could be otherwise.
Like Aznar, Berlusconi was an enthusiast supporter of the invasion of Iraq led by U.S. President George W. Bush. And like Aznar, he took the decision to support the war in the face of overwhelming opposition from his own people. A year ago the anti-war demonstrations in Rome were the biggest in the world with more than two million taking to the streets.
This time the anti-war protest in Rome was fed by the involvement of more than 2,000 civil society organisations. Hundreds of special trains and buses from all over Italy began to arrive in Rome from early in the morning. The demonstration began an hour ahead of time because there was no space left for more demonstrations coming in.
The rally in Rome, like hundreds of others around the world, was more than a protest over the invasion of Iraq, or over the continuing occupation of it. Demonstrators here wanted "the end of all wars".
Demonstrators in Italy who had produced the famous rainbow coloured peace flags last year carried peace banners this year, and Palestinian and Kurdish flags.
"This is an expression of solidarity with the Iraqi people and with the victims of all wars," Flavio Lotti, a member of the 'Stop the War' committee which organised the rally told media representatives.
One reason the Italian demonstration was so strong was also because of a long campaign in support of the demonstration. Four 'peace caravans' have been touring Italy since the beginning of this month to drum up support against war.
Italy has paid a price for its participation in the occupation of Iraq. A bomb blast killed 17 Italian soldiers in Nassiriya Nov. 12 last year. The big demonstration Saturday could be indication that Berlusconi will pay a political price for supporting the war.
But Britain where anti-war sentiment has been strong saw only a relatively small turnout of protesters. "No more lies Mr Blair" seemed the slogan of the day.
Organisers were clearly disappointed with the turnout estimated by the police at no more than 25,000. An organiser told media representatives that one reason for the low turnout was that "the weather isn't great." More than a million had marched through London Feb. 15 last year in protest against an attack on Iraq.
Two protesters who climbed on to Big Ben came down later because of strong winds and because one of them said "we made our point". Both demonstrators were arrested.
In Paris, only about a thousand people came out to demonstrate. "Send Bush to Mars" read one slogan. Demonstrations took place also in other French cities like Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse.
In Berlin about 1,500 people came out to demonstrate, and another thousand or so protested outside a U.S. airbase in Ramstein.
In Amsterdam a few hundred protesters marched to the centre of town to gather at Dam Square where a famous World War II monument is located. The government of the Netherlands remains a strong supporter of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. About 1,300 Dutch troops are stationed in Iraq.
The demonstrations began in Australia and moved west through the day.
Sceptics in both Australia and Japan used the Mar. 20 anniversary of the invasion of Iraq to warn against the consequences of involvement by their countries in the U.S.-led occupation of that country.
Some 2,000 marched in Sydney to mark the first anniversary of the war on Iraq, with speakers critical of Australia's close ties with the U.S. administration. They said such support would carry a price, as it did for Spain.
In Japan, protesters said the real way to end terrorism was to get rid of U.S. President George W. Bush. A conducted by the 'Asahi Shimbun' daily earlier in March found that 66 percent of the respondents said the United States had no legitimate reason to attack Iraq, while 19 percent said it did.
The crowds in Australia and Japan were smaller than last year. Demonstrations
in other countries drew only a few hundreds.
6) Latin American Marchers Jeer U.S., Cheer Its
MEXICO CITY, Mar 20 (IPS) - Thousands of protesters took to the streets -- and some to the water -- Saturday throughout Latin America to express their rejection of the U.S. government and the invasion of Iraq, and their support for the region's leftist groups.
Although the turnout was less than expected, enthusiasm was running high. Demonstrators chanted slogans against "imperialism" and in favour of peace, backed by traditional protest songs, marking the one-year anniversary of the U.S. and British-led invasion of Iraq.
Many of the mobilisations also heard slogans in solidarity with Cuba and with Venezuela's Chávez government -- both politically on the outs with Washington.
Demonstrators throughout the region carried signs in support of the government-elect of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Spain's future prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is standing fast behind his pledge to withdraw the country's troops from Iraq.
The Latin Americans expressed solidarity with the Spanish people, who are mourning the Mar. 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed more than 200 people and injured 1,500 others.
"There were fewer demonstrators today, but the positive side is that now we have a clearer perspective," Mexican activist Oscar Medina told IPS. He is part of the Mexican Initiative Against the Imperialist War, Not in Our Name, a group that organised a rock concert and protest outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.
In Uruguay, Nora Brioso, of the group Redes-Friends of the Earth, told IPS, "More and more people are joining the movement" for peace and against war.
Meanwhile, in the Venezuelan capital, Juan Contreras, of the Coordinadora Simón Bolívar, a group aligned with President Hugo Chávez, told IPS that he thinks a "rejection of war and terrorism policies" is growing throughout Latin America.
According to political observers, although the Iraq war is a long way from Latin America, the invasion of that country has deepened the anti-U.S. feelings that had existed amongst some segments of the population.
A survey of 18,600 people in 17 Latin American countries, released late last year by the polling firm Latinobarómetro, showed that one-third of respondents had a negative opinion of the U.S. government, twice the portion recorded in 2000 in a similar poll..
In Chile, the anti-U.S. sentiment was forcefully expressed on Saturday in Santiago by at least 3,000 people, mostly from leftist groups. They marched carrying signs and chanting slogans like: "We are not neutral, we aren't pacifists, we are in the anti-imperialist trenches", and "No war, no terrorism!"
"We are expressing our condemnation of terrorism and asserting that violence begets violence, and that peace alone is the means to a more just, equal and sustainable world," Jenia Jofré, president of Chile's oldest environmental and peace organisations, Pro-Defence of Flora and Fauna, told IPS.
Saturday's marches in cities around the globe were convened in January by the Assembly of Social Movements during the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India.
The Assembly stated that the occupation of Iraq has demonstrated the link between militarism and economic domination by transnational corporations, validating the reasons the social movements were mobilising on the one-year anniversary to protest the unjustifiable invasion.
To date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found and no evidence has been uncovered that Saddam Hussein's government supported the Islamic terrorist network al-Qaeda -- the two motives that Washington and London gave last year for going to war.
"The war in Iraq is not against terrorism, although that is being used as justification... It was an invasion for natural resources (petroleum)," Cándido Grzybowski, director of the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis, told IPS.
Last year in Brazil there were numerous colourful protests against the war, but Saturday's marches were muted in comparison.
In Sao Paulo, only around 1,000 people took part in the anti-war demonstration, according to police estimates, though organisers put the total closer to 3,000.
They protested outside emblematic U.S.-based companies, McDonald's and BankBoston, shouting slogans against imperialism, the U.S. government, genetically modified crops and the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
In Argentina, the crew of the Arctic Sunrise, a ship belonging to the environmental watchdog Greenpeace, formed the symbol of peace on the roof of the vessel.
Taking part in that anti-war act were 20 activists, from Spain, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Colombia, Ghana, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and United States.
Socialist-run Cuba also saw anti-war demonstrations, with around 10,000 people gathered in the province of Holguín, 700 km from Havana.
Orlando Fundora, president of the Cuban Movement for Peace, said in an IPS interview that Bush "has done what a madman would do. He has attempted to put out a fire with a bucket of gasoline. He has gone to fight terror with terror," referring to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Says Humberto Hernández, director of a Cuban organisation in solidarity with Asia, Africa and Latin America, a year after the invasion of Iraq there is "more awareness in the world of the great danger weighing over humanity as a result of the war adventure" of Washington and London.
(* With reporting by Marcela Valente/Argentina, Mario Osava/Brazil, Dalia Acosta and Patrcia Grogg/Cuba, Gustavo González/Chile and Humberto Márquez/Venezuela.)