Demonstrations in Spain and Around the World Against an Iraq War
By Emma Daly
New York Times
Sunday 15 March 2003
MADRID, March 15 Angered at their government's unwavering support for United States policy on Iraq, Spaniards took to the streets here today, one of hundreds of antiwar demonstrations around the world.
For the second time in a month, crowds of demonstrators jammed the center of Madrid, waving antiwar placards and chanting insults against President Bush and one of his strongest allies, Prime Minister Jos Mar a Aznar of Spain.
"We are marching against the law of the jungle that the United States and its acolytes old and new want to impose on the world," Jos Saramago, the Portuguese writer and Nobel laureate, told the crowd, estimated by news organizations at about half a million, gathered in Madrid's Puerta del Sol. Another demonstration was held in Barcelona, where the police said 300,000 people demonstrated, some of them forming a three-mile human chain.
The events were part of a largely coordinated worldwide effort to rally support against the war.
While the Spanish demonstrations drew large crowds, some others were more sparsely attended. In Seoul, South Korea, 3,000 protesters held towering candles as they paraded through the capital. About 15,000 rallied in Athens, accompanied by a giant reproduction of "Gu rnica," Picasso's antiwar painting. And in Moscow, 1,000 people demonstrated in front of the American Embassy.
In London, where an estimated one million people marched against the war in January, there were protests in several residential neighborhoods and a scheduled concert tonight for 2,000 people aimed at raising money for the Stop the War coalition.
Muslims in London organized walk-bys at the embassies of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Qatar and Pakistan, countries they accuse of collaborating with the United States. "The governments of the Muslim world have the power to stop this war by disallowing America and its allies from using their land, airspace, waterways and logistics to perpetrate it," said one of the organizers, Dr. Imran Waheed.
In Montreal, about 250,000 people marched through the streets shouting antiwar slogans, in the largest of 30 demonstrations in Canada.
About 100,000 people demonstrated in Berlin, according to police estimates, while 50,000 demonstrators gathered in the Place de la Nation in Paris.
More than 5,000 people marched in Marseille, France's second largest city.
In central Tokyo, an estimated 10,000 people filed through downtown streets to applause from passers-by. According to polls, more than 80 percent of the Japanese people oppose an attack on Iraq, but the government has supported the United States demand that Baghdad disarm or face military action.
In Madrid, few demonstrators saw much hope of persuading Mr. Aznar to change course. "Hope is the last thing to go," said Ernesto Cano, a student attending with his parents and family friends. "If we keep making an effort there is still a possibility to avoid war."
But Maria Conde, marching with her three labrador dogs, was pessimistic. "I don't think this will change anything," she said.
In the Middle East, some of the demonstrations were in support of Saddam Hussein. In Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, for example, 10 men in black hoods, wearing mock versions of the explosives belts of suicide bombers, led a march in support of the Iraqi leader.
In Cairo, several hundred people, surrounded by 1,500 police officers, protested outside the University of Cairo chanting, "With our blood, with our soul, we will defend Baghdad."
In Nicosia, 2,000 people marched on the American Embassy demanding "no more blood for oil." They also condemned the presence on the island of the largest Royal Air Force base outside Britain, at Akiroti, which is scheduled to play a support and logistics role in any attack on Iraq.
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Hundreds of Thousands March Against Iraq War
By Eric Lichtbau
New York Times
Sunday 16 March 2003
Antiwar demonstrators gathered yesterday near the Washington Monument before marching to the White House. Similar actions were staged in other cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore.
WASHINGTON, March 15 In what many saw as a last chance to head off military action, tens of thousands of antiwar protesters marched in several demonstrations around the country today in opposition to the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.
In Washington, just hours after President Bush said in his weekly radio address that he saw little chance that Iraq would disarm without the use of force, throngs of protesters armed with banners and bullhorns implored Mr. Bush to abandon a possible war.
"The people can stop the war," Congressman John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, told thousands of cheering supporters near the Washington Monument on a mild, sunny but breezy afternoon. He urged people to continue to protest "until this madness is ended."
Marching on streets that pass within a block or two of the White House, which they were not allowed to approach more closely, the protesters flooded nearly a dozen blocks of city streets in a sea of colorful and often angry antiwar banners and chanted slogans.
Although police gave no official crowd count, a park police supervisor working the scene estimated that the protesters totaled 50,000 people. It was hard to be sure if there were that many, as some came and went, while others milled around in clusters on side streets. Protesters gathered to listen to speeches, then marched around the White House.
If the crowd was smaller than some recent antiwar protests, it might have been because organizers called the "emergency" action only a few weeks ago.
Police said the crowd was generally peaceful, although about a half-dozen people were arrested for illegally entering the lobby of the World Bank, a target of past economic protests. Hundreds of police enforced barricades and massed at intersections.
In San Francisco, demonstrators filled Civic Center Plaza, ignoring forecasts for heavy rain and possible unruly acts by splinter protest marchers. Police and organizers declined to provide a crowd estimate.
Some protesters described the mood of the marchers there as less festive than at a February rally. But many demonstrators remained hopeful for a peaceful resolution. "It's worth it to march to make the numbers count and be counted," said Sarah Warnock, 41, a biologist.
A splinter protest at the February rally turned violent. San Francisco officials rerouted today's rally to avoid the downtown shopping area where rioters vandalized stores.
Today the police said they had arrested more than 150 of several hundred people in splinter marches away from the main protest. There was one arrest for throwing a smoke bomb at a police officer, and others were charged with failure to disperse and illegal assembly.
In Los Angeles, the Reverend Jesse Jackson led a noisy and soaking wet procession of about 2,500 people through downtown.
Tama Winograd, a music executive from Hollywood, said the weather was not a hindrance. "I would be here today, even if there was an earthquake," Ms. Winograd said.
About 30,000 protesters converged on the banks of the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia who marched alongside Martin Luther King, told the crowd, "People around the world will not be inspired by our missiles and our guns; they will be inspired by our ideas."
Separately, a group of 41 Nobel laureates in science, medicine and economics who signed a declaration in January opposing war with Iraq said today that eight more laureates, all winners of the Peace Prize, have joined their cause. The eight include Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.
Today's Washington protest was organized by a group called Answer, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. The group, formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has drawn criticism from some people inside and out of the antiwar movement because some of its chief organizers are active in radical socialist causes and because it has taken controversial positions on issues not directly related to Iraq. At today's rally, speakers addressed a wide range of issues, including Palestinian statehood, pollution, affirmative action and world hunger.
"We don't police our speakers at all," said Larry Holmes, a spokesman for Answer. "People here raise Palestine, Colombia, everything, but it's all basically about peace."
Mr. Holmes said that if war with Iraq breaks out, the group plans more severe acts of civil disobedience around the country, including mass sit-ins.
While a New York Times/CBS News Poll last week found that 55 percent of Americans would support an American invasion of Iraq even in defiance of the United Nations, there was near unanimity at today's demonstration in opposition to the war.
Organizers of the protest sought to present a diverse face to emphasize the breadth of dissatisfaction with the administration's Iraq policy.
There were students in tie-dyed shirts playing hacky sack and grandmothers selling antiwar pins. Local residents were joined by out-of-towners. And veteran activists, some who protested the Vietnam War, mingled with novice protesters.
Fred Gregory, a retired Army captain, said he came from Maryland with his wife, Charlotte, to join the protests because he did not believe that Iraq posed the significant threat that the administration says it does.
At 68, Mr. Gregory said, "this is the first time I've ever protested anything in my life."
President Bush was the target of criticism in speeches and on antiwar placards, with numerous handmade signs mocking him. Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general who was one of more than 50 speakers to address the rally, told protesters that Mr. Bush should be impeached.
Mr. Conyers, the Michigan congressman, urged Mr. Bush to pay close attention to the rising tide of discontent over Iraq. "People have stopped wars before ordinary people," he said later. "It can happen again here."
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