Anti- War Protest in Sydney – The 4th Anniversary of the Iraqi War & World Wide Protests…

20 Mar

Protest march in Sydney

The organisers of the Anti- War March in Sydney, Stop The War Coalition, estimated a turnout of about 1000.

The first few speakers to gave their speeches before the march at Town Hall, includes aboriginal female activist Jenny Munro who lambasted the Howard government for depriving the rights of the original inhabitants. Federal Greens senator Kerry Nettle who opposed the Iraqi war in Parliament before it started, also related her Palestine visit a month ago. She talked about the Occupation and the Iraqi War and linked it to the result of the American’s disastrous Middle Eastern foreign policy. Other speakers include President of the New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties David Burnie and Maritime Workers Union spokesman Paul Garrett.

After the speeches, the march proceeded promptly as protestors chanted cheers such as “Troops out Now” and “Bring Hicks Home”. The peaceful protest went on smoothly and ended at Belmore Park, with more speeches and performances.

In America, according to news reports, similar anti- war protests are held across the country. In Washington, DC, a news wire reported that a private estimate of perhaps 10,000 to 20,000 anti-war protestors marched from Potomac River to the Pentagon despite the freezing windy weather. They were addressed by various critics including anti- war activist, Cindy Sheehan.

Protests across US are also held in other cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Portland Oregon. According to Aaron Clark from Associated Press, 3000 protestors are estimated to have closed down Market Street while in Portland, organisers estimated 15000. In New York, more than 1000 demonstrated outside a park near the United Nations headquarters. In New York, the march consists of union members, representatives of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow-PUSH Coalition and war veterans with anti-war protesters.

World-wide, anti- war protests were held in Europe and parts of Asia. In Europe, protests are held in Greece and Turkey. In Athens, Greece, 1,000 people are estimated to have marched from central Syntagma Square to the US embassy.

In Turkey, Istanbul, two separate demonstrations are held attracting about 3,000 protestors. More than 2,000 of the anti-war activists protested on the Asian side of the city, bisected by the Bosphorus strait while about 1,000 demonstrators, held another protest in a main square on the European side of Istanbul.

The anti- war march in Spain, Madrid, was estimated to be 4 km from central Cibeles Plaza to Atocha square. While the organisers estimated an attendance of 400,000, news report cited eyewitnesses as a quarter less than the figure. The rally was joined by Spanish movie director, Pedro Almodovar. News report put up estimates of 2,000 in Barcelona and 500 in Seville in Spain. The country recorded one of the larger major anti-war protests prior to and during the war, with demonstrations in Barcelona and Madrid, seeing between 1 million and 2 million people each. The 2004 election in Spain saw the victory of Socialist party leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who brought Spanish troops in Iraq back after Popular Party prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, who strongly supported the war, was voted out of office.

In Asia, about 2000 demonstrators marched in Tokyo against the Iraqi War and the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to revise the pacifist constitution. There are still more than 200 Japanese troops in Kuwait who fly supplies and manpower into Iraq on behalf of the US-led coalition and the United Nations.

As one of the demonstrators in Sydney, I witnessed first hand the importance of public protests in giving ordinary people a voice. It also helps governments understand ground sentiments on controversial issues.

As far as the Iraqi conflict is concerned, it appears that there is a sizeable amount of Opposition to the war, whether in US or around the world. The Bush Administration and other governments with troops in Iraq is facing stronger dissenting voices at home. In Australia, for example, the imprisonment of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay has been met with severe criticisms and seen a drop in opinion polls towards the Howard government. The Labour party, which is the current second largest Opposition party, is promising to withdraw troops in Iraq, if elected into power.

The effects of protests may not be as immediate as it seems sometimes. However, as the situation in Spain, and the Republican party losing both the House of Representatives and the Senate has demonstrated, people power can often make a difference.

===

References

War Brings Out Protesters Around World, Activists Stage Rallies In U.S., Europe, March 17, 2007, Associated Press

Iraq War’s Anniversary Sparks Protests, March 19, 2007, Aaron Clark, Associated Press

War Protests Continue, Led By NYC, Weekend Anti-War Demonstrations Continue As Hundreds March Through Manhattan, March 18, 2007, Associated Press

Anti-war protesters throng Madrid, Associated Press, Monday, March 19, 2007

Anti-Iraq war demonstration in Istanbul, Associated Press, March 17, 2007

Anti-war demonstration in Japan, 18 March 2007, AFP

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