Up to 2,500 people protested in Prague on Day X, which is a big step forward for the Czech anti-war movement.
Day X. Czech Republic.
Anti-war movement gathers momentum
After 15th February, every weekend there have been demonstrations against the possibility of war against Iraq. Usually around 100 to 200 people have demonstrated. On each demonstration there was something new and special. On the 1st March it was carnival with masks. On the 9th March the theme was ’Together with the Iraq people against Hussein’. On 16th March it was theatre based on Orwell’s 1984, with ’Big Brother’ Bush and how our former friends became our future enemies.
The latest demonstration was more political and larger. We collected many signatures and new people wanted to become activists of Initiative Against War, a broad platform of mostly unorganised and people from the Left.
’Day X’ (in Czech: ’Day D’) started early. As head of a phone network, I woke up at four in the morning to listen (as usual) to the radio. Within a few minutes, phones started ringing and in one hour around 50 to100 people throughout Prague started fly-posting posters with a photo of Iraqi families and slogans: ’You see them for the first time in your life, and may be the last’.
The war started and the protest started. A few people hung a big banner from one big bridge in Prague, which was mentioned on the radio and TV.
We expected around 100-500 people on demo at 18.00 hrs. But there were more than 2,000! Maybe even 2,500!
Organisations made speeches – from the Left, radical groups, Christian and Humanist groups and from Greenpeace. The only political party present was the Communist Party.
School students make the difference
Most importantly, students turned out. Some of the students wore badges with white birds on. At their school 250 students wear them. At another school, 200 proudly sport the badges.
Our call for students, when on return to their schools to ask colleagues and school friends to prepare strikes met with big response. We also called on the big trade union confederation to call a one-hour general strike as a step to force ministers who support war to resign and/or the whole government, if it tries to balance between war and peace.
People marched to the US Embassy and for 30 minutes shouted against war and Bush.
It was mostly youth who really started the anti-war protests here and we are trying to spread the idea about strike against war. We are also the only ones who really seriously take up the issue of building a movement based from below instead of just only ’coalition’ of small organisations.
We sold our paper and gave out a special leaflet based on the ISR and CWI statements.