Millions around the world join weekend antiwar protests

By Barry Grey
24 March 2003

The World Socialist Web Site is continuing its comprehensive coverage of the global movement against the Iraq war and imperialist war in general. Today we are posting reports from around the world on the marches, rallies and other actions held over the weekend. Several reports from last week’s protests are also included. We invite readers to submit reports on activities in their areas and comments on the leaflet distributed by the WSWS and the Socialist Equality Party at the weekend protests: “Build an international working class movement against imperialist war.”

The international outpouring of opposition to the US-British attack on Iraq continued over the weekend, as millions marched and rallied around the world. Never before in history has the onset of war provoked such a massive and global expression of anger and resistance.

Marches and rallies were held in scores of cities, embracing every continent. In many cities the demonstrations held Saturday and Sunday came on the heels of protests that had occurred daily since the US launched its first missile salvo on Baghdad last Wednesday evening (US time). Despite being called on short notice, and in some cases in the teeth of growing police repression and mounting arrests, the demonstrations in cities such as New York, Montreal, London, Barcelona, Milan, Rome and Amsterdam were massive.

In the US some 250,000 marched through the heart of Manhattan in one of the most powerful political outpourings in that city’s history. The march was all the more impressive given the open hostility of the city and the police department, which had denied demonstrators a permit to march on February 15 and had carried out over 100 arrests of antiwar protesters over the two days prior to Saturday’s march.

Demonstrations were held in dozens of US cities, including San Francisco, where over 20,000 marched despite mass arrests (over 2,200) carried out by the police against protesters on Thursday and Friday.

In Los Angeles 20,000 picketed the studios of CNN to protest that network’s round-the-clock dispensation of White House and Pentagon lies and propaganda in the guise of “news.” Protests were also held outside CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta.

Montreal saw a turnout of 200,000 in perhaps the largest political demonstration in that city’s history.

The biggest mobilizations took place in Europe, where several million demonstrated. Over a quarter of a million marched in London, and tens of thousands more rallied in other cities in Britain and Scotland. Some 5,000 demonstrated outside the US air base in Fairford, England, from where B-52 bombers take off on bombing missions over Iraq.

Ireland also saw rallies involving thousands. Close to 100,000 marched in Paris, and thousands more rallied elsewhere in France.

Marches in Barcelona and Madrid drew a combined turnout of well over a million, providing a massive popular repudiation of the pro-war stance of right-wing Prime Minister Asnar. Likewise in Italy, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest the war and denounce the pro-war policy of the right-wing government headed by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi. More than 150,000 marched in Milan and a similar number marched in Rome. Large demonstrations were also held in Florence, Naples and other cities. Protesters rallied outside the British consulate in Venice to denounce the UK’s role in the Iraqi invasion.

Demonstrations were held throughout Germany, with 40,000 participating in Berlin and 10,000 in Frankfurt. Some 70,000 marched in Amsterdam. Helsinki, where 20,000 marched, saw the largest political demonstration in the modern history of Finland. Other European countries where major protests occurred were Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland.

In the Middle East, thousands of university students rallied in Jordan. A 19-year-old student was shot dead by Sudanese police at an antiwar protest in Khartoum.

Demonstrations were held across Asia, with the largest (well over 50,000) in Lahore, Pakistan. Demonstrations also took place in South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and even US-occupied Afghanistan.

In Australia, whose government has sent 2,000 troops to join the bloodletting in Iraq, 50,000 rallied against the war in Sydney and demonstrations were held as well in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and other cities.