Iraq: No to war – A weekend of huge international protests

War on Iraq.

Last weekend saw mass protests in North America, the Middle East, Europe and Australasia against Bush’s war plans.

Hundreds of thousands braved zero temperatures in Washington DC to show their opposition to the Republican Administration. Many other protests took place across the US, including in San Francisco, representing the largest anti-war demonstrations in North America since the Vietnam War. This tears apart the media myth that there is overwhelming support in the US for Bush’s war aggression. In fact, as polls indicate, the majority of US workers are opposed to a ’unilateral strike’ by US imperialism in the Middle East and greatly fear the consequences of an attack.

CWI members took part in many of these huge protests, including in Washington DC. Over the next few days we will publish first hand reports, beginning with Canada, New Zealand and, a first for cwi online, a song!

cwi online

A weekend of huge international protests

New Zealand

Thousands march against war in Dunedin and Christchurch

Hundreds of people marched against Bush’s war plans on Saturday 18 February in Dunedin, South Island. Figures given for the number of protesters ranged between 500 and 1,500 (the figure given in a local paper). There were probably anywhere between 500-700 on the march and then several hundred more turned up to the rally.

Thousands of people also took to the streets in Christchurch to show their opposition to any new invasion of Iraq and to call on the New Zealand government to end its support for the so-called "war on terrorism".

The protests were held as part of an international day of action against the threat of a war with Iraq and followed a demonstration just two days earlier outside the US embassy in Wellington that attracted some 200 people.

In Dunedin, members of the newly formed CWI group, Socialist Alternative, were heavily involved in planning and organising for the ’J18’ day of action, distributing hundreds of leaflets and collecting over 500 signatures for a petition demanding that the Labour-led government cease all military and political support for the US-led "war on terrorism". On the day itself an estimated 1,000 people took part in the march and rally – more than three times the number that the organisers had originally hoped for.

The protest took place in the middle of the university holidays, when most students are out of town.

Noticeably absent however were the trade union leaders, who despite a New Zealand Council of Trade Unions resolution opposing a war with Iraq did absolutely nothing to mobilise for the event. This had the unfortunate effect of ensuring that most of the platform at the rally was given over to speeches by members of the local establishment such as the Mayor and the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral.

Socialist speaker

In contrast to the speeches of the establishment figures the Socialist Alternative (NZ CWI) comrade, Tim Bowron, speaking from the platform emphasised that "…a new war with Iraq, if it comes, will represent not just the work of one crazed individual – George W. Bush – but rather the logical outcome of a system that puts the needs of the wealthy few before the lives of millions of ordinary people…As long as this system remains in place we will never be rid of war, poverty and oppression. That is why we say that opposing a war with Iraq – while it is a good first step – does not go far enough. We must also begin to build a socialist alternative."

Socialist Alternative supporters at the rally also distributed 100 copies of our free bulletin/handout, ’For a socialist alternative to war’ and sold 16 copies of the Socialist Alternative paper, ’The Socialist’ (we also sold another 60 copies in the weeks leading up to the protest).

The fact that a Socialist Alternative comrade was mentioned in last Tuesday’s edition of the local newspaper, and Socialist Alternative was mentioned as one of the organising groups of the protest, means that we have begun to establish Socialist Alternative as a name on the political map in Dunedin.

This march and rally will be followed up with a new organising committee meeting on 28 January.


Toronto says no to Bush

Over 10,000 people assembled in Toronto (organisers estimated the figure was 15,000) braving sub-freezing temperatures to protest against the war on Iraq. Protesters included trade unionists from the Canadian Auto Workers, the UNITE textiles union, the steelworkers, teachers and other unions, various church, Muslim and Jewish groups, war veterans and pensioners, high school and university students and the Left. The rally began at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall and then marched to the University of Toronto. Organisers had booked the 1,200 seat Convocation Hall for an indoor rally, which was only able to accommodate a minority of protesters.

Three members of Socialist Alternative were there. I alone sold about a dozen papers.

Another rally is planned for February to build on this excellent event.

Andy Lehrer, Toronto.

Sing against the warmongers

The following popular anti-war song was sent to us by Andy in Toronto.

CWI Online.

(Sung to the tune of ’If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands’)

If we cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.

If the markets hurt your Mama, bomb Iraq.

If the terrorists are Saudi

And the bank takes back your Audi

And the TV shows are bawdy,

Bomb Iraq.

If the corporate scandal’s growin’, bomb Iraq.

And your ties to them are showin’, bomb Iraq.

If the smoking gun ain’t smokin’

We don’t care, and we’re not jokin’.

That Saddam will soon be croakin’,

Bomb Iraq.

Even if we have no allies, bomb Iraq.

From the sand dunes to the valleys, bomb Iraq.

So to hell with the inspections;

Let’s look tough for the elections,

Close your mind and take directions,

Bomb Iraq.

While the globe is slowly warming, bomb Iraq.

Yay! the clouds of war are storming, bomb Iraq.

If the ozone hole is growing,

Some things we prefer not knowing.

(Though our ignorance is showing),

Bomb Iraq.

So here’s one for dear old daddy, bomb Iraq,

From his favorite little laddy, bomb Iraq.

Saying no would look like treason.

It’s the Hussein hunting season.

Even if we have no reason, bomb Iraq.

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.

If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.

If the terrorists are Saudi,

And your alibi is shoddy,

And your tastes remain quite gaudy,

Bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.

If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.

If you think that SUVs,

Are the best thing since sliced cheese,

And your father you must please,

Bomb Iraq.

If the globe is quickly warming, bomb Iraq.

If the poor will soon be storming, bomb Iraq.

We assert that might makes right,

Burning oil is a delight,

For the empire we will fight,

Bomb Iraq.

If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.

If we think that someone’s dissed us, bomb Iraq.

So to hell with the inspections,

Let’s look tough for the elections,

Close your mind and take directions,

Bomb Iraq.

If corporate fraud is growin’, bomb Iraq.

If your ties to it are showin’, bomb Iraq.

If your politics are sleazy,

And hiding that ain¹t easy,

And your manhood¹s getting queasy,

Bomb Iraq.

Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.

For our might now knows no borders, bomb Iraq.

Disagree? We¹ll call it treason,

It’s the make war not love season,

Even if we have no reason,

Bomb Iraq.


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January 2003