Revolution #83 Online Edition
Around the World and Across the U.S.:
Protest and Outrage at Bush and the U.S. War in Iraq
Around the world and across the U.S., the past week was marked by protest and outrage at the four-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. There was mass outcry at the Bush regime's lies about WMDs, the criminal acts of war and torture, the two illegal occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the threat of attack on Iran. People across the planet called for an end to all this, and many demanded the impeachment of Bush and the entire administration.
The largest march occurred in Spain where 100,000-400,000 marched through the city of Madrid. According to A World To Win News Service, “Spain's governing Socialist Party (PSOE) played a prominent role in the demonstration in this country where the issue of allegiance to American global ambitions has been a sharply fought issue within Spanish ruling circles. Many slogans and banners angrily denounced the infamous 'Azores three'—U.S. President George Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar, since removed from office, whose summit meeting in the Azores islands on the eve of the invasion was meant to demonstrate so-called international support for the war. Marchers and speakers called for all three men to be put on trial for war crimes.” (From “Worldwide protests mark 4th anniversary of Iraq invasion,” A World to Win News Service, March 19, 2007, www.aworldtowin.org/wordpress)
Protesters in Sydney and Melbourne called for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan. Another major demand was for the return of David Hicks, who is a prisoner at the U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo. A World To Win News Service also reported: “In Seoul, South Korean demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of their country's troops from Iraq fought a pitched battle with riot police who tried to halt the march... Several thousand marched in Istanbul [Turkey] carrying signs reading 'We are all Iraqis' on March 17 as part of the global days of protest. There were also demonstrations in Athens, Nicosia [Cyprus], Copenhagen, Prague (which also opposed U.S. plans to base missiles in the Czech Republic), Rome, Bogota and other cities. A major march against the war took place in London in February.”
Around the U.S.
In the U.S., over 20,000 protesters marched on the Pentagon on March 17. According to the organization A World Can't Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime, “The crowd included many students and youth, veterans of the current Iraq war and other wars, and many others from around the country. Saturday's protest came 40 years after the 1967 March on the Pentagon, which marked a turning point in the movement against the Vietnam war. The message that we must go 'from protest to resistance' resonated from the stage and among the crowd, with many expressing disillusionment in the Democratic Party that has refused to stop the war, and an urgency to stop the bloodshed in Iraq and a new war on Iran.” (Videos and photos from the march on the Pentagon and speakers at the rally are available online at the World Can't Wait website, worldcantwait.org.)
One development to note is the increased level of organized pro-war counter-protest that was seen in DC. These reactionaries called the protesters “traitors,” and they were heavily promoted on Fox News and other media. On NBC News' Meet the Press program the next morning, former leading right-wing Republican Congressman Tom DeLay declared before a national audience that anyone calling for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was “aiding and abetting the enemy.”
The day before the march on the Pentagon, over 3,000 people gathered at the Washington National Cathedral on March 16 for a rally and march to the White House organized by Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. Outside the White House, 222 people were arrested when they sat down and held a prayer vigil.
On Monday, March 19, the Iraq Veterans Against the War performed street theater at tourist sites in DC. Wearing their uniforms, the vets—with young activists who volunteered to act as Iraqi civilians—acted out the kind of things U.S. troops do as part of the occupation of Iraq: raids on homes, mass arrests and detentions, putting hoods on people and zip-tying their hands, shouting at people, etc.
In Los Angeles, 10,000 people marched in the streets of Hollywood. A report on the World Can't Wait website said:
“Martin Sheen marched with Veterans for Peace, carrying one of many coffins representing soldier deaths in Iraq. He spoke out against the troop surge and immorality of this war on the podium. Later in the day. Ozomatli took the stage after that and performed for the crowd, calling on folks to resist and repudiate the Bush agenda. Jackson Brown took the stage after that with an inspiring version of 'Guns of War.'
“Near the end of the rally program, our World Can't Wait speaker, Reverend Meri KaRa took the podium with an invigorating and concise message. A torture victim in orange jumpsuit and hood knelt near him on the stage. He spoke of the awakening of students on campus… The crowd cheered. He spoke of the urgency of this moment, and began a chant of the '2008 IS WAY TOO LATE! THE WORLD CAN’T WAIT!' The crowd took up the chant with him.”
Tens of thousands marched in San Francisco on March 18. Our Bay Area correspondent filed a brief report:
“The march stretched over 15 blocks, filling Market Street, the main thoroughfare through downtown San Francisco. While many people had demonstrated against the war since it began, there were a large number who were protesting against the war for the first time, including many high school students, a lot of whom were coming not as individuals but organized in anti-war clubs at their schools. Daniel Ellsberg called for impeachment and criticized the leaders of the Democratic Party who say that impeachment or cutting off funds for the war are 'off the table.' On March 17, there were demonstrations in suburban cities of San Rafael (in Marin County) and Walnut Creek (east of San Francisco) which had not previously been the site of anti-war protests. There were other actions on March 20, including mass 'die-ins' at noon in the Financial District in San Francisco.”
In Portland, Oregon, as many as 15,000 rallied and marched on March 19. In Seattle, there were two days of protest: 3,000 marched on Sunday, and hundreds attended simultaneous rallies the next day, including one held by the Bring Our Troops Home Now Coalition, which includes veterans and high school and college students. The rallies merged downtown where over 1,000 marched. Hundreds gathered in Salt Lake City where Mayor Rocky Anderson (who also spoke at the March 17 rally in DC) called for Bush's impeachment, stating his administration had lied about the reasons for the invasion and had violated domestic and international law.
Some other protests during the week:
- Organizers reported 4,000 marched in downtown Minneapolis.
- The editor of the Progressive magazine, Matthew Rothschild, wrote, “We had about 500 people in Madison, Wisconsin, but we needed more. And we need more everywhere across the country if we are to bring this war to a halt.”
- In New York City 2,000 demonstrators marched through midtown on the 19th. The organization Grannies for Peace spent six days outside the military recruiting center in Times Square, reading names of Iraqis, U.S. soldiers, and journalists who have been killed. 17 participants were arrested.
- In Chicago, on the 20th, at least 3,000 marched down Michigan Avenue, the main commercial district in the city.
- More than 200 protested in Iowa City; 300 Iowa State University students rallied in the city of Ames.
- A call for campus/student actions on March 20 was put out by Students For A Democratic Society and supported by many other organization. As many as 80 campuses across the country held walk-outs rallies and marches. (See the article on March 20th student protests here.)
- Veterans from both Vietnam and Iraq wars demonstrated in a military town outside Fort Stewart, GA. Veterans for Peace, along with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out, launched a "peace convoy" traveling from Fayetteville, NC, where the Ft. Bragg army base is located, to military bases throughout the Southeast. They plan to distribute copies of the Appeal for Redress (statement by active-duty GIs calling for an end to the Iraq War), GI rights hotline information, and copies of the documentary films Sir! No Sir! and The Ground Truth to military personnel
On March 19, Sunsara Taylor—a member of the World Can't Wait advisory board and writer for Revolution newspaper—appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. (The video of Sunsara's appearance and transcripts from the show are available online at worldcantwait.org.) In what World Can't Wait described as a lightning exchange,” Sunsara Taylor brought to a national audience sharp exposures and basic truths about the Iraq War and the Bush regime's torture policy, which are rarely allowed to be heard in the mainstream media.
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