From Thu Oct 3 03:30:10 2002
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Subject: wwnews Digest #518
Date: Thu, 03 Oct 2002 03:30:16 -0400

London, Rome, Madrid: Half-Million Protesters

By John Catalinotto, Workers World, 10 October 2002

The worldwide movement to stop U.S.-British aggression against Iraq took a leap forward over the Sept. 28–29 weekend with massive demonstrations totaling half a million people in London, Rome and Madrid.

People from all over Britain answered the call of the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain. The demonstration was endorsed by 12 national trade unions, numerous Muslim and anti-racist organizations, members of Parliament and the mayor of London. They marched under the slogans of Don't attack Iraq—Freedom for Palestine.

Eyewitnesses, writing their reports across the Internet, described the London action as possibly the biggest-ever anti-war demonstration in Britain, or at least the biggest in 30 years.

It was a fantastically mixed range of age, gender, religions and left/libertarian/peace groups, one wrote. The march took almost six hours to travel three miles from the Thames Embankment to Hyde Park via Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly.

Organizers estimated between 350,000 and 450,000 people took part.

Scottish Labor Member of Parliament and long-time anti- sanctions campaigner George Galloway said Prime Minister Tony Blair would be watching the demonstration in his five- star hotel in Blackpool and would be turning several shades of green. Galloway also said that Iraq and Iran are the only two Middle East countries not controlled from Washington.

The purpose of the attack on Iraq was to get control of the oil, he said, shouting, No war for oil.

Despite the enormous importance of this action, the New York Times of Sept. 29 and 30 gave no coverage at all to the demonstration. Even the British press is underplaying it.

Blair, who has been a willing servant of the Bush administration, faces a Labor Party conference in early October with large sections of his party in revolt against his pro-war leadership.

Political analyst and organizer Tariq Ali wrote that the new wave of trade-union leaders who have been elected to defy the New Labor Thatcherites—that is, Blair's grouping— were solidly against the war. Bob Crow of the Railway Workers denounced Blair in vitriolic language. So did Mark Serotka from the Civil Servants Union, wrote Ali.


In Rome, up to 100,000 people demonstrated Sept. 28, many called out by the Refoundation Communist Party (PCR). PCR leader Fausto Bertinotti described this first major action against the threatened war on Iraq as only a beginning. An article in the Sept. 29 issue of Il Manifesto reported that many in the crowd carried the red flags of the party as well as pictures of Che Guevara.

The Greens were there, too, along with left elements in the Party of the Democratic Left and organizations of Palestinians and Kurds. All demanded, No war on Iraq.

A representative of the British anti-war movement spoke in Rome to show the international solidarity between the two movements. The heads of these two European countries—Blair and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi—support U.S. aggressive policies in the Middle East.

So does Jos=E9 Mar=EDa Aznar in Spain. And there, too, the struggle was sharp.

Carlos Varea of the Spanish Campaign for Lifting the Sanctions on Iraq told Workers World that 30,000 to 50,000 people demonstrated in Madrid Sept. 29 calling for No war on Iraq.

Some 54 organizations built the march, including trade unions, social organizations, political parties—the United Left and others—religious and community groups, feminist and youth organizations and local groups, as well as two cultural/intellectual groups.

The Madrid meeting ended with the reading of messages from former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and British MP George Galloway, and an announcement that the movement in Spain is preparing a new demonstration for Oct. 26.

Representatives of the German Kassel Peace Council—a coalition of many groups—decided over the same weekend to hold local and regional anti-war demonstrations throughout Germany on Oct. 26 against the U.S. war and in solidarity with demonstrations called for Washington and San Francisco.

German anti-war activists want to press the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, just elected on a peace platform, to withdraw German units from Kuwait and forbid the use of bases in Germany for a new Gulf War.

This enormous outpouring in Europe has already greatly encouraged activists in the U.S. anti-war movement. Sara Flounders of the International Action Center said she expected that as news of these demonstrations reaches the public in the United States, they will realize that it is the Bush administration that is isolated, and not those millions of people in the U.S. who want no part of a war on Iraq.