All they are
Press Service correspondents
If projections are
accurate, never before will one cause have drawn so many
together around the world. The demonstrations against
war in Iraq called for this coming Saturday are expected
to draw millions on every continent.
Stop the War
Coalition, which started it all, counted 354 cities last
week in almost every country in the world that will hold
demonstrations. Four weeks earlier a spokesman had said
the number of cities holding demonstrations had risen
from 11 to 27.
"Even we were not expecting
this," Chris Nineham from Stop the War Coalition told
IPS. They have stopped counting any more.
Inevitably, the anti-war movement has not spread
evenly around the world. It has found little success in
Africa, and drawn a varied response across Asia. In
Latin America support seems uncertain beyond the
Large anti-war rallies are being
planned in Arab capitals such as Damascus in Syria and
Cairo in Egypt. Democratic protest is not a way of life
in these countries, but the demonstrations have been
planned on the back of an unusual coming together of
state policy and popular protest.
Moving in the Middle East
Palestinians and Israelis are
being asked to come together to demonstrate against the
war. Israeli organizations backing the call include the
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,
Taayush-Arab Jewish Partnership, The Alternative
Information Center and the Coalition of Women for Peace.
Several busloads of demonstrators are expected to arrive
in Tel Aviv.
Anti-war protests have been planned
in many Asian countries on Saturday. Groups opposing war
have been making calls like "Stop the War, Demonstrate
Saturday" to draw people to rallies. "Wake up, USA, Wake
up Japan, and Wake Up Our Soul," says one group in Tokyo
calling on people to come out to protest.
than 50 civil society groups have backed a rally at a
local park in Bangkok. The demonstrators plan to march
to the US embassy in Bangkok. "War is an ineffective way
to deal with weapons of mass destruction," says
Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which is joining the
Stop the War Coalition has called
on people to join the protests in Kuala Lumpur outside
the US embassy. Many activists have launched a signature
campaign in Malaysia against a war on Iraq.
London leads the
In Europe, London is
leading the way, where close to a million are expected
to join the demonstration. Only a week ago Stop the War
Coalition was expecting half a million. More than 450
organizations are joining the demonstration, along with
11 parties, which include the Liberal Democrats, the
rising third force in British politics (after Labor and
At their little office in
Brick Lane in London's East End, Stop the War Coalition
is barely able to handle what it started only a few
The US stand on Iraq has divided
European governments as never before, and it has united
millions of people in Europe as never before. Anti-war
groups are not calling these the February 15 rallies any
more; they speak of this now as "mobilization".
In France, Belgium and Germany, street muscle is
for once in line with government policy.
Paris, up to 200,000 had been expected to join the
demonstration. "But it now seems that the number could
be higher," a spokesman for the anti-war alliance told
At least 100,000 are expected to
demonstrate in Berlin. A massive demonstration has been
planned in Brussels. Many of the demonstrations in
Europe have been organized by the Platform Against War
on Iraq comprising 170 non-governmental organizations.
Across the rest of Europe, opinion polls show
public in open conflict with governments backing the US,
particularly in Britain, Italy and Spain. Polls indicate
the highest opposition to war in Sweden, Greece and
The degree of opposition to war has
wavered over past weeks. But opinion polls indicated it
was rising after what most people found to be an
unconvincing plea by US Secretary of State Colin Powell
in the United Nations.
A British government
dossier on Iraq supposedly compiled from intelligence
reports was found to have been plagiarized substantially
from an essay posted on the web by a 29-year-old
Californian. This added to the simmering anger.
The anti-war group acknowledges its debt. "Our
best recruiting agents have been Bush and Blair," says
Andrew Murray who heads the anti-war coalition in
Revolt in US
from dozens of US cities that have passed resolutions
opposing a war on Iraq are trying to meet President Bush
and deliver their message first-hand.
a few weeks, the number of these cities has risen from
less than 50 to 83, according to the website
citiesforpeace.org. That growth mirrors the blossoming
of an anti-war movement in North America.
is the biggest peace movement we've had since Vietnam,"
says Josh Matlow, national campaign organiser of the
Canadian Peace Alliance. "I'm getting calls from animal
rights groups, energy groups and others not usually
associated with the peace movement. I'm getting hundreds
of calls a day."
Hundreds of thousands are
expected to join the anti-war rally Saturday in New York
city. City authorities have refused to allow
demonstrators to march past the United Nations
The rally is being organized by
United for Peace and Justice, an umbrella body of 70
groups formed late last year to oppose the war. The
group is being supported by Not in Our Name, whose
'Pledge of Resistance' has been printed in dozens of
newspapers around the world.
200,000 people are believed to have joined
demonstrations held in San Francisco and Washington
January 18. The rally on Saturday is expected to draw
many more people, and more determined people.
"The last thing I want to do is get in the way
of a working person trying to get to work," says Leone
Reinbold, a veteran of civil disobedience protests. "But
when 200,000 people marching in the streets doesn't get
people's attention in Washington, this is our last
fights for peace
Non-governmental organizations, intellectuals
and leftist parties throughout Latin America are
rallying forces to boost attendance at the global day of
anti-war protests Saturday, while their governments take
a more cautious stance.
associations of mothers and grandmothers of those who
disappeared during the 1976-1983 dictatorship have
attacked Washington for "trying to impose its hegemony
over the rest of the world at any cost".
women are planning to join the march along with local
artists, journalists and members of human rights groups.
The anti-war march in Buenos Aires will end outside the
In Mexico, Nobel Peace laureate
Rigoberta Menchú told IPS that "the most important thing
about the peace movement is that for the first time in
the history of war, the political, academic, human
rights and civil society worlds are united around the
planet to reject war". A large rally has been planned
for Saturday through downtown Mexico City.
Brazil is also seeing preparations for anti-war
demonstrations Saturday. The Rio Peace Committee, which
includes the Brazilian Press Association, leftist
parties, trade unions and the MST (landless farmers
movement), is organizing a march through the main avenue
in the Copacabana neighborhood.
Brazil are also calling for a one-day boycott of
products and services of companies based in the United
States or any other country whose government supports
war against Iraq.
The anti-war movement in
Venezuela is organising a march through Caracas under
the slogan "Not a drop of Venezuelan oil for the war",
says Sergio Sánchez, of Utopía, a political group.
Peace organizations in Chile are pressing the
government of Ricardo Lagos to stand up to the United
States and insist on pursuing all diplomatic means
possible to prevent a military attack on Iraq.
Former South African
President Nelson Mandela told an international women's
group in Johannesburg on January 30, "One power, with a
president who has no foresight and cannot think
properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a
holocaust." But in this struggle Mandela has found few
Anti-war demonstrations have been
planned in Kenya. The demonstrators are up against
growing ties between Kenya and the US. Kenyan and US
troops recently conducted joint military exercises.
To keep up the pressure, feeble as it is, about
300 anti-war campaigners protested Tuesday outside the
offices of the US oil company ExxonMobil in
Johannesburg. There is little sign of any significant
preparation for any major demonstration Saturday.
(Inter Press Service)