Revolutionary Worker #1186, February 9, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org
January 27, 2003. AWTW News Service. The closer the US-led war with Iraq approaches, the more the people throughout the world have been taking to the streets. A high point was reached in mid- January and the demonstrations were truly worldwide. They were especially powerful in countries likely to be the most directly involved in this war, including in "the belly of the beast," the United States.
According to media reports, the protests in the Middle East were particularly militant. The US is counting on the active or passive support of the governments of several of these countries to be able to wage war on Iraq. In most of them, demonstrations are not usually allowed, but for once the US- subservient rulers were unable to stop them or unwilling to pay the political price for trying.
Thousands of demonstrators in Beirut, Lebanon carried Palestinian and Iraqi flags and chanted, "Sign your name for a suicide attack on US interests, so we can fight an American attack along with Iraq." Protestors in Egypt defied a ban on demonstrations and demanded that the government, completely dependent on American handouts, prevent US and British warships from using the Suez Canal en route to assault Iraq. There were also demonstrations in Damascus, Syria and in Yemen.
Several thousand people warning "Yankee Go Home!" marched through Manama, the capital of Bahrain, a key Persian Gulf base for the US 5th Fleet for the war on Iraq. The media reported that many youth between 13 and 23 were arrested. On New Year's Eve, hundreds of angry teenagers trashed US-owned or identified restaurants, hotels and other symbols of America and Bahrain's rulers.
About 10,000 Moroccans took to the streets in Rabat on January 12 to burn American flags and slam the Arab governments for their complicity with the US. They expressed support for the Iraqi people against "the new criminal aggression being prepared by US-British-Zionist terrorism against Iraq," whom they denounced for "seeking to occupy Iraq and subdue its people." More than 3,000 Palestinians filled the narrow streets in Gaza City in occupied Palestine.
Some 500 people were reported at an antiwar rally in Ankara, Turkey, January 17. Although even the polls say that most people in Turkey oppose the US war, the Bush government has been pressing the Turkish armed forces and the civilian government that they supervise to provide staging areas for massive numbers of American troops and involve Turkish soldiers in an attack on northern Iraq.
Thousands of people demonstrated in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, where school children formed a human chain to condemn a possible attack on Iraq. Smaller marches took place in Lahore and Karachi.
In Delhi, India, a delegation from the Provisional Organizing Committee of the South Asian section of the World People's Resistance Movement delivered a letter of protest to the US Embassy declaring that "US imperialism itself is the biggest terrorist in the world."
Many of the January 18 protests across the world were coordinated to send a powerful message to the world's rulers before the 27 January inspections "deadline." Demonstrations in the US took a stand against Bush and with the worldwide movement against the American government's aggression. Estimates put the number of demonstrators in Washington, D.C. at a quarter of a million or higher. They poured in on trains, buses and in cars from all over the East Coast and even further across the US. After speeches, demonstrators marched to a nearby Navy base where they demanded the right to inspect American weapons of mass destruction. In San Francisco, a small city of about a million, between 150,000 and 200,000 people packed the main thoroughfare for four hours as they marched to the City Hall rally. 20,000 people marched in Portland, Oregon. A week before, on January 11, 25-30,000 paraded through downtown Los Angeles against the Bush government's planned war on Iraq and its detention of hundreds of men of Middle Eastern origin.
There were also major demonstrations across Canada on January 18.
In Germany, antiwar actions filled the streets in Bonn, Cologne, Hamburg, in front of the European headquarters of the US Army in Heidelberg, Rostock, Tuebingen and other cities. Civil disobedience actions were held at the massive US airbase at Ramstein, where American bombers and troops leave for the Gulf.
About 10,000 people demonstrated on January 19 in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels. The action was focused against US aggression and its war on Iraq, and the hypocrisy of the Belgian government that allows US military transports through the port of Antwerp, despite its public stance against the US at the UN. A contingent of the World People's Resistance Movement took part in the demonstration. On January 18 a hundred "civilian inspectors" from different European countries cut their way through fences at the Volkel military air base in the Netherlands searching for illegal weapons of mass destruction, while hundreds of peace activists rallied outside. In Paris, France around 10,000 people marched through the Left Bank of Paris.
In Moscow, about 1,000 people chanted "US, hands off Iraq!," including significant numbers of youth. Some carried portraits of Stalin, who led the USSR when it was still socialist. Thousands of Japanese gathered in central Tokyo January 18 to oppose a US-led attack on Iraq and any Japanese support for the war. One poster depicted Bush as a kimono-clad Japanese warlord, with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as his retainers. The following day 300 demonstrated at the US navy base in Yokosuka, where the USS Kitty Hawk is stationed.
The UK has seen the world's biggest demonstrations against the war that Tony Blair is determined to drag it into despite the fact that people here, like in most countries of the world, oppose it strongly. There were civil disobedience actions on January 19 and again on January 26 as protestors broke into the US Air Force base in Fairford. On January 27 the Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior (once sunk by French intelligence officers in New Zealand, with one death), made a surprise appearance in Southampton harbour in the UK, obstructing access into the Marchwood military supply port. 2,000 people demonstrated at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. Buses of volunteers to be human shields in Iraq left London for Baghdad on Saturday, 25 January, a project organised by an ex-US Marine and Gulf war veteran.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, several hundred demonstrators chanted slogans in front of the American consulate and burned a US flag painted with a swastika. During an international anti-globalisation conference in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, some 70,000 people took part in a street protest against the US. Tens of thousands of demonstrators cheered the burning of an American flag outside the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
A new round of internationally-coordinated demonstrations is now being planned for mid- February.
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