Protests Around the World:
U.S. Hands Off Iraq!
Revolutionary Worker #946, March 1, 1998
CONFRONTATION IN COLUMBUS: The whole world was watching as the tables were turned on U.S. policymakers--Secretary of State Albright, Defense Secretary Cohen, and National Security Adviser Berger--during a CNN televised Town Hall meeting at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, February 18.
In the early afternoon 400 to 500 gathered with banners and signs to oppose U.S. aggression in Iraq. One of the organizers told the RW: "We started marching from the entrance to Ohio State saying, `You can't come here beating your war drums, with your war party, without noticeably people in opposition.' We marched over to St. John's Arena where the Town Meeting was going to happen and had 400 to 500 people outside for 1 1/2 hours. Over 200 protesters went in. The first person to ask questions inside was a doctor from the Ohio State University medical center. It was: Why Iraq, when it will hurt the Iraqi children? Does the American administration have the moral right to attack the Iraqi nation?
"There were several chants that rang out like `1...2...3...4, we don't want your racist war,' `No Attack on Iraq,' `Bombing Hussein, the Policy is Insane.'
"People are really happy about what happened. We are getting calls from all over the country and the world saying, `You guys did it! Bravo, Bravo.' Calls from teenagers from Olympia, Washington, grandmothers from New Mexico, doctors from Florida, mothers from Maryland. We got several calls over e-mail from Germany, the Netherlands, mainly from Europe.
"What was outstanding was we had a diverse crowd gathered together, a truly multicultural mobilization... The action was a real mix of opposition, the youth and old together, a strong spirited experience. Some people say we showed no respect for these people, but these policy makers have had their say for the last some odd weeks, drumming the war beat, war beat, war beat, so we felt we couldn't let their war party go on without some disruption. The effect was that the event was totally disrupted and stopped the ability of the policy makers to come to town and have a nice smooth war party."
On Friday, February 20, the Clinton regime faced more trouble in the heartland when the U.S. Ambassador to the UN was forced to cut short a speech at the University of Minnesota after being drowned out by 150 protesters shouting, "No Blood for Oil" and "Hands Off Iraq!"
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA: The last two weeks has seen an eruption of protest in the San Francisco Bay Area against U.S. moves to bomb Iraq. Hundreds have turned out for rallies and teach-ins. On February 17 a large and very spirited march of 800 to 1,000 people in downtown San Francisco took the streets, stopping at the San Francisco Chronicle to protest the media's coverage of the situation in Iraq, and then at the headquarters of Chevron Oil to highlight U.S. efforts to maintain control of Persian Gulf oil through its bullying. Among the speakers were Jeff Paterson of VVAW-AI--the first military resister of the Persian Gulf War in 1991--and Larry Everest, a contributing writer to the RW who travelled to Iraq in 1991 to investigate the impact of the war and sanctions on the Iraqi people. There were also gatherings in Sacramento, Garberville, and Mendocino.
On Saturday, February 21, 1,000 gathered in the pouring rain at the San Francisco federal building to denounce U.S. plans to bomb Iraq, to demand an end to sanctions, and to generally denounce the U.S. role in the Middle East. Following the rally several hundred youth and students wound their way through the San Francisco streets chanting "1...2...3...4, we don't want your racist war."
Teach-ins are planned at San Francisco State and City Colleges for Feb. 24 and UC Berkeley on Feb. 26, Santa Cruz students are planning a walkout on the 25th. The San Francisco Chronicle reported anti-war activity every day of the week and at every sizable town and campus.
AROUND THE COUNTRY: 3,000 people marched near the White House in Washington, DC on Feb. 21. In New York on February 17 several hundred answered the call to "resist the war" and heard Ramsey Clark denounce the U.S. "genocidal policy against Iraq that shows their absolute indifference to human life."
In Los Angeles 150 converged on the Westside Federal Building on Tuesday February 17. Called by a coalition called "Save the Iraqi Children," the protest was marked by a special spirit of militancy and anger among the marchers who came from the Middle East. Some from Iraq had lived through the 1991 war.
At Kent State University Friday, Feb. 20, 100 students marched and rallied to stop the war. And on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 21, 100 students, professors and town residents rallied at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
Actions were also reported in Philadelphia; Houston; Washington, DC; Hyannis, MA; Chicago; Boston; Albuquerque, NM; Denver and Boulder, CO; Grinnell, Iowa; Indianapolis, IN; Orlando and Tampa, FL; Durham, Raleigh, and Asheville, NC; Newark, NJ; and Portland, Maine.
AROUND THE WORLD: In Palestine on February 9, U.S. and Israeli flags were burned as 500 protested in Ramallah--and 100 youth confronted an Israeli military checkpoint. In Jenin, on the West Bank, 1,000 chanted: "Death to America, death to Clinton, death to Blair." Israeli troops fired rubber bullets into crowds of student-led demonstrations in Hebron and Nablus on February 12. And on February 8, 3,500 political prisoners in Israeli jails announced a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with Iraq. A spokesperson for the Association of Palestinian Prisoners said, "This strike is the simplest way for us to show solidarity toward Iraqi children threatened with destruction and humiliation by the U.S. machine."
In Jordan, where daily demonstrations are underway, Jordanian police attacked with riot sticks as thousands demonstrated in Amman on Feb 13. On February 14 and 15, 5,000 and 1,500 marchers in the capitol city of Yemen were met by police attacks. In Cairo, Egypt, 3,000 rallied on February 13 after Friday prayers at the Al-Azhar mosque. In Teheran, Iran 2,000 marched against the U.S. on Feb. 20. And 1,000 demonstrated in Turkey chanting, "USA: Keep your hands off Iraq."
In Britain, nine were arrested at a protest of 700 against military action in Iraq. Member of Parliament Tony Benn was among the protesters. On February 16, activists blocked the gates of a military base near London. Hundreds marched in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, on February 20. On February 13, 100 confronted Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada as he arrived for a radio interview in Winnipeg. And in Oslo, Norway, 1,000 demonstrated against the war on Monday, Feb. 9.
Fax REPORTS OF ANTI-WAR ACTIONS to the RW, c/o RCP Publications, Public Relations at 773 227-4497.
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