Iraq: Day X – School students lead the way

Millions have protested against the start of the US led imperialist war against Iraq. As the reports from CWI sections posted on this site show, many of the demonstrations have been led and dominated by school students, aged from 11 years upwards. The CWI sections and International Socialist Resistance, which initiated Youth Against the War (YAW) in many countries, have played a key role or the main role in organising many of these protests.


Day X. Millions protest.

School students to the fore in global protests

In Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, England and Wales and Australia, to name but a few, YAW/ISR school students’ strikes have been to the fore in anti-war protests. Often they have bravely faced police violence and attempts by school authorities, local governments and national governments to stop their right to protest. However many teachers and parents fully back the protest actions of the students. Many millions of working people follow closely the school students’ actions and applaud their initiative.

The political establishment however is looking at the international protests of youth with trepidation. A new generation of youth have rapidly become politically conscious. They do not accept the arguments for war from the political establishment. Many young people are demanding a better future. They have seen and taken part in anti-globalisation protests of recent years and many want an alternative to capitalism, which they understand causes war, poverty and mass unemployment.

This youth radicalisation is an extremely important development. It marks a decisive change amongst the younger generation. As CWI members have found everywhere this new generation are very open to socialist ideas. Even more are keen to join an international socialist organisation, like ISR and the CWI.

International press reports huge protests

As well as the CWI reports posted on this site, the following are comments from the Reuters news agency on the worldwide Day X protests.

…Anti-war demonstrators have staged huge marches across the world, often clashing with police as they converged on heavily guarded U.S. embassies.

Barely three hours after the first cruise missiles slammed into Baghdad on Thursday, a wave of demonstrations started in Asia and Australia and rolled swiftly across Europe and the Middle East towards the United States, where anti-war activists planned hundreds of protests later on Thursday.

In the Arab world, thousands of protesters vented their fury at the start of the war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, with demonstrators in Egypt and Syria demanding the expulsion of U.S. ambassadors.

In Cairo, the Arab world’s biggest city, riot police used water cannon and batons against hundreds of rock-throwing protesters who tried to storm towards the U.S. embassy.

In Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is one of Washington’s staunchest allies on Iraq, the three biggest trade unions staged a two-hour strike.

Italian cities were thrown into chaos as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, in many cases blocking train stations and highways. The biggest demonstration was a march on the U.S. embassy in Rome.

In Germany, more than 80,000 schoolchildren, many with faces painted with "No War" or peace signs, protested in the capital Berlin and the cities of Stuttgart, Cologne, Munich and Hanover.

Swiss police clashed with hundreds of protesters, mainly students, who marched on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Geneva, firing teargas into the air to disperse them.

Spanish police in riot gear fired rubber bullets at anti-war demonstrators, including well-known actors and celebrities, who gathered in central Madrid in protest at Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s support for the U.S.-led attacks on Iraq.

Earlier they beat some demonstrators with batons in an attempt to move them on.

Violence also erupted in Calcutta, eastern India, when about 1,000 protesters waving banners reading "U.S. warmongers go to hell" tried to storm a U.S. cultural centre. At least 12 policemen and six demonstrators were injured when cane-wielding police drove them back, a senior police official told Reuters.

Thousands of anti-war campaigners, enraged by the involvement of British troops in a war they see as an illegitimate grab for oil by Washington, blocked roads and scuffled with police as protests spread across

At the biggest rallying point in London’s Parliament Square, police hauled away demonstrators, including many schoolchildren, who were sitting in roads and blocking access points.

The only reported clash outside a British embassy was in the Lebanese capital Beirut, where around 1,000 protesters were sprayed with water from a fire truck when they crossed barriers outside the mission.

Witnesses said police beat several of them.

In France, more than 10,000 people, mostly students, surged through Paris chanting anti-war slogans, reflecting their government’s rigid anti-war stance, which has infuriated Washington and split the international community into two camps.

Huge protests also took place in Greece, Spain and Austria.

In the Gaza Strip, about 1,000 Palestinian women and children marched in the Rafah refugee camp, holding Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam and setting fire to Israeli and U.S. flags. About 150 people marched in Bethlehem in the West Bank.

On the other side of the planet, protesters brought Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, to a standstill. Organisers put the crowd at 40,000, police said it numbered "tens of thousands". Australia is a staunch ally of the U.S. and a supporter of the use of force to disarm Saddam.

Anti-U.S. sentiment was also strong in Muslim Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, where many saw the attack as the start of a U.S. campaign to subjugate the Islamic world and seize oil.

From Reuters, London, 21 March 2003

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March 2003