Iraq: Anti-war protests around the world

26 October saw one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC since the Vietnam War. The Demonstration was organised by ANSWER, a coalition developed by the ’Workers World’ organisation. The coalition started after the attacks on the World Trade Centre, one year ago.

CWI Campaigns and activities

Mass demonstrations against Bush’s war plans took place across the world last week. Significantly some of the largest protests were in the US. Moreover, it is reported that west coast Longshore union activists led the huge demo in Washington.

The scale and scope of these protests are highly important, especially given the fact that war has not yet commenced. They indicate the mass movements that will develop, in the Middle East and across the world, should Bush push ahead with his plans to attack Iraq.

Below are reports from CWI members who took part in anti-war protests in the US, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Canada. We also include a brief round up of some other demonstrations.

This is the first article for the new ’CWI Campaigns and Activities’ section of the CWI web site.

CWI Online, 29 October 2002

Washington stages largest anti-war demo since Vietnam conflict

It was estimated that the crowd was 100,000 in attendance, more than the 20 April demonstration in Washington DC. We think the crowd exceeded that number with close to 200,000, which would rival the numbers at an anti-Vietnam war demo in 1969. It was impressive for the simple fact that, as with the recent anti-war demonstration in New York at Central Park, people came out to protest before there has been any military action taken by the US against Iraq.

The composition of the demo was very diverse. It was made up of Left organizations, veterans of the anti-war demonstrations of the past, students and young people from campuses from around the country, and working class people. Young and older Middle Eastern people also attended, many from a secular background. This is in comparison to the 20 April demo that saw a massive turnout organised by the Mosques from the east coast.

It was a very peaceful demo. The police made no arrests. Slogans employed ranged from "No Blood For Oil" to " US needs a Regime Change"

There were platform speeches from Jesse Jackson, actress Susan Sarandon, Al Sharpton, the Black civil rights leader, and many more. However the speeches lacked an analysis and what to do next after the protest.

Socialist Alternative (CWI section in the US) took part in the protest. Comrades from New York, Boston and Oberlin ran three campaigning tables and produced placards that read ’Money for Jobs and Education and Not War’ and ’No Blood For Oil’.

We sold 406 copies of our paper, ’Justice’, and, at this stage, we estimate 80 signed our forms for more information about Socialist Alternative.

Germany

On the 26 October, in several German cities, demonstrations against the war on Iraq took place. In Berlin around 20,000 people marched. In other cities it ranged from several hundred to two thousand.

SAV (CWI in Germany) comrades took part in the anti-war demonstrations in Cologne, Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, Rostock, Stuttgart, and Saarbruecken.

In Berlin, one youth comrade who is a member of Resistance International/School Students against the War, was also one of the main speakers of the demonstration. Another youth comrade compared the demonstration. In the evening, a third youth comrade chaired a meeting of the Berlin Anti-war Coalition.

Comrades sold about 140 papers on the Berlin protest and sold many ’No Blood for Oil’ stickers.

In Rostock, only about three hundred came to the demonstration, nevertheless, SAV comrades sold 33 papers. In Stuttgart comrades sold 65 papers and raised about 80 Euros fighting fund at a demonstration of 2000.

The mood on the demonstrations was quite radical and paper sales, and, in general, it was easy to sell papers. The level of activity of the SAV comrades is rising, as the party prepares for further protests against the war.

This week we will have a meeting of Berlin school students to discuss organising a school students’ strike against the war. Last year, we were able to bring out 5000 students, despite a clampdown by the school authorities.

Holger, Berlin

Netherlands

More than 5,000 people gathered in the centre of Amsterdam on 26 October to protest against Bush’s war. The protesters were composed of youth, native Dutch and immigrants. There was a good atmosphere on the demonstration.

The turn out was not bad, if you take into consideration that this is the first demonstration before a war commences, and that there will probably be more protests.

On the same day, there was a demonstration in Rotterdam, which was attended by 800 people (youth, Socialist Party members (a broad Left party), migrant workers, etc).

Members of the Dutch section of the CWI, Offensief, supported by Belgian comrades from our sister organisation, the Left Socialist Party/Movement for a Socialist Alternative, attended both demonstrations. The Belgian comrades helped us to sell our paper, called Offensief, and they also sold International Socialist Resistance stickers. Members of Offensief sold about 50 papers.

In Rotterdam our two comrades sold 12 papers and we were clearly visible with our banner.

Ron Blom, Utrecht

Sweden

In Stockholm 4,000 took part in an anti-war demo organised by the ’Network against War’, which RS (the CWI section in Sweden) is part of. RS members sold 400 papers and one person joined RS on the day.

In Gothenburg 500 people were on a demo. RS members sold all of their papers. In the town of Luleå 150-200 took part in a demo, which RS members helped to organise. RS members sold 41 papers.

Per Olsson, Stockholm

Canada

A crowd of 350 gathered across the street from the US consulate in Toronto on 26 October and protested against US imperialism and the impending war against Iraq.

Protesters ranged in age from students to "Raging Grannies", included Muslims and Jews, youth and workers from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Steelworkers, UNITE (textile union) and members of the teachers’ union.

A larger demo is planned for Queen’s Park, also in Toronto, in November.

At the end of the demo a number of us went to join an OCAP (Ontario Coalition against Poverty) demo on housing where OCAP activists hoped to occupy an abandoned building and turn it into a squat. There were about 300 people at the rally, quite a number of unionists including CAW, CUPW and a "Teachers’ Flying Squad". The police went in through the back door and evicted the OCAP squatters.

Andy Lehrer, Toronto

Anti-war protests from around the world

As well as the CWI reports given above, the media and anti-war campaigns have reported the following 26 October protests:

15,000 protested in Barcelona. A demo took place in Copenhagen and there were also protests in three other Danish towns. Anti-war organisers in Madrid said 5,000 people attended a protest. There were demonstrations in Mexico City, Rome, Tokyo and Seoul. Around 40,000 marched in San Francisco.

CWI online, 29 October 2002

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