Netherlands: Thousands take to the streets against Bush’s visit

US President hears demands for an end to Iraqi occupation

Despite cold weather and heavy rain, thousands of protesters gathered at Museumsplein, in central Amsterdam, last weekend, to show their opposition to US President Bush and his ’world order’. Many young people, immigrants and political activists, including Australians and Americans, came together and listened to speakers who reported on the torturing of prisoners inside Abu Grahib prison in Iraq, the violation of human rights in Guantanamo Bay, about the plundering and exploitation of Iraq, and about the so-called ’war on terror’, which has lead to an increase in racism against Muslims.

The conservative Dutch government, led by Prime Minister Balkenende, invited Bush to pay a visit to the Netherlands on May 7-8, marking 60 years since Nazi rule ended in the Netherlands and the end of the war in Europe (’VE Day’).

Bush arrived at Maastricht airport where he visited the Margraten graveyard and the graves of American soldiers who died during World War II. Not far away, the first protests against his visit took place.

Today, US soldiers are dying every day in Iraq. (The official number stands at 1,500) Dutch soldiers are also part of the ’coalition’ occupation forces in Iraq and, up until now, this bloody occupation has left of more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead. And there is no end in sight. There are still foreign troops, including Dutch troops, in Afghanistan.

Reflecting the attitude of many working people in the Netherlands, the anti-Bush protestors wanted to make their voices heard and to speak out against the war policy of the US President.

Offensief, the Dutch section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), was part of the organising committee of the demonstration. We carried a banner on the protest, which made a clear link between capitalism and war. We also had a stall. We sold 79 papers and collected 28 euro for our fighting fund.

We met people interested in Offensief who want to have discussions with us.

Overall, we have made an important contribution towards building a broad and democratic anti-war movement in the Netherlands.

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May 2005