In the shadow of possible war, people mobilize against U.S. policy on Iraq
Millions March Against War on March 15 in Cities Worldwide; Isolated in the Azores
Some 200,000 people in Montreal join countrywide protests against war in Iraq
Thousands marched through the streets of Toronto. (CP/Aaron Harris)
MONTREAL (CP) - Few in the army of anti-war protesters who marched through Montreal on Saturday said they believed they could stop an eventual assault on Iraq.
Yet organizers estimated more than 200,000 of them took to the streets as part of an international day of demonstrations. "They're going to go (to war) anyway, no matter what we do," said David McCray as he walked toward Complexe Guy Favreau, Montreal's main federal building.
"But it would be nice to be able to isolate (U.S. president George W.) Bush from the rest of the world, and this is the kind of thing we are doing right now."
The Montreal demonstration was by far the largest of at least 45 others across Canada on Saturday. Also notable was a 10,000-strong turnout in Vancouver.
Tens of thousands of others rallied worldwide, through Europe, Asia and the Middle East and the United States itself.
Montreal police do not provide official crowd estimates the turnout was at least as big as the estimated 150,000 demonstrators who braved frigid temperatures on Feb. 15.
That day, it took one hour for the entire procession to pass from beginning to end. On Saturday, organizers had marchers converge on Complexe Guy Favreau from the western and eastern edges of Montreal's downtown core, and the western march alone took 45 minutes to pass.
By contrast, Toronto police estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people marched from the U.S. Consulate to Moss Park Armoury, about 1,500 protesters snaked through downtown Ottawa and about 350 people braved the deep chill on the Halifax waterfront for a quiet protest against war.
Among the possible explanations for the alarming disparity in the number of participants was a strong sentiment in the Montreal crowd of solidarity with France, which has been one of the staunchest opponents to immediate military action in Iraq.
French President Jacques Chirac was referred to on many placards, such as, No to War in Iraq, Listen to Chirac.
Montreal's anti-war demonstrations have also included a major presence from Quebec's unions, which are generally considered to be more influential than in the rest of Canada.
For example, the Quebec Federation of Labour - the province's largest union group - invited its membership of more than 500,000 to take part in Saturday's march.
In Vancouver, the protesters marched several city blocks to a downtown art gallery for rally with music and speakers including environmentalist David Suzuki.
"We are here today as global citizens to show our firm opposition to the Bush administration's high handed policies of ignoring the dissenting opinions in the UN," Suzuki said. "We urge our government to stay out of this war."
Holding signs emblazoned with slogans such as like How Many Lives Per Litre? and Weapons of Mass Distraction, the Montreal demonstrators joyfully chorused anti-war chants and sang songs to the constant beat of tam-tam drums.
The final gathering in front of Complexe Guy Favreau packed more than four city blocks with people.
Many demonstrators in Montreal said they felt compelled to protest for the therapeutic value of a shared experience with like-minded people, rather than an attempt to stop the war in Iraq.
"I think (the demonstration) affects each one of us who is here," said Terry Borsman, who drove about 150 kilometres from Lake Massawippi in Quebec's Eastern Townships to demonstrate with his wife. "I know I feel so frustrated about (the war), but I feel very good about coming out here today."
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe was among the Montreal marchers Saturday, just as he was on Feb. 15.
He said he felt it was still important to maintain pressure on the government, especially after Friday's news that a small number of Canadian military personnel have been authorized to serve with British and U.S. forces in an -Iraq war.
"There's no reason for Canadian troops to be integrated with (British and U.S.) forces, which is why we've requested an emergency debate on Monday," Duceppe said. "Demonstrations like this support the fight we are leading in Ottawa."
In Ottawa, a small group of three pro-American demonstrators got into a shouting match with anti-war protesters as they made their way to the rally.
Standing near the U.S. embassy, angry protesters traded insults with the three men, who were carrying U.S. flags and wearing Remembrance Day poppies.
In London, Ont., at least 2,000 people again called for a peaceful solution to the situation in Iraq.
"There are other ways of dealing with these problems, not just war," said Madeline Lennon, a professor of art history at the University of Western Ontario, at the start of the march.
"War just creates more war,"
she told the cheering crowd.
© The Canadian Press, 2003
In the shadow of possible war, people mobilize against U.S. policy on Iraq
SYDNEY, Australia (CP) - Families picnicked under antiwar banners and held vigils at tourist centres in Australia and New Zealand on Sunday as protests against a U.S.-led war in Iraq that rocked major cities worldwide continued through the weekend.
In neighbouring Indonesia, peace activists held a small candlelight vigil, the latest in a series of antiwar demonstrations in the world's most populous Muslim nation. Muslim and Christian groups offered prayers together outside Hong Kong's biggest mosque.
Nearly 1,000 people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Toronto in front of the U.S. consulate on Sunday night, continuing to press for peace with song.
Hundreds of thousands of people poured out onto the streets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America and the United States on Saturday in an outpouring of dissent no less persistent than the buildup of U.S. forces ready to strike Iraq.
In Australia, hundreds of thousands have come out in recent weeks in opposition to Prime Minister John Howard's unstinting support of U.S. President George W. Bush and his hardline stance on disarming Iraq.
On Sunday, surfers off Sydney's beaches paddled out to form a giant peace sign in the water, while a small but noisy group of protesters picketed Howard at different points of his schedule, as he left his home in Sydney and later at a political campaign function.
Throughout Australia's Victoria state, events had been organized with families in mind - picnics, vigils and educational sessions.
In the tourist spot of Ocean Grove, lawyers, garbage collectors and people from other walks of life sat in a large circle near the town's main shopping district to voice their "deeply held feelings of the insanity of Howard and Bush wanting war," said organizer Rev. Neil Tolliday.
In several New Zealand and Australian cities, protesters gathered for candlelight vigils. As dusk fell, hundreds stood on Sydney's world-famous Bondi Beach holding candles and making speeches for peace.
In the Indonesia capital, Jakarta, around 100 people - among them several expatriates and many women - protested at the city's main traffic circle.
Carrying banners reading No Blood for Oil and No Blood for Imperialism, the protesters lit candles and said prayers for peace before disbanding.
About 200 people held a candelight vigil outside Hong Kong's Kowloon Mosque.
In Bulgaria, about 300 people marched in downtown Sofia to protest a temporary air base for U.S. forces on their country's Black Sea coast and government support for the American and British stance on Iraq.
Bulgaria, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, has allowed the United States to station up to 18 refuelling aircraft and up to 400 army personnel at the civilian airport of Sarafovo, 400 kilometres east of Sofia.
In Greece, about 2,000 anti-war demonstrators protested outside a small United States navy base on the Mediterranean island of Crete which supports the U.S. navy and air force spy planes and could play an important role in an attack on Iraq.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered at a NATO base in the northern town of Tirnavo and at an air base in the northwestern town of Akteon.
Hundreds of thousands rallied worldwide a day earlier, in some cases pressing close to the symbols of American power: the White House, the U.S. air base in Frankfurt, Germany, and U.S. embassies in Greece and Cyprus.
Organizers estimated 200,000 protesters marched through Montreal, making it the largest of at least 45 others across Canada on Saturday. Also notable was a 10,000-strong turnout in Vancouver.
More than 10,000 Argentines marched peacefully Saturday to the U.S. Embassy at Buenos Aires, waving flags and signs advocating Peace and demanding No War.
Several hundred people attended a music and cultural festival against war in Iraq in Mexico City's main square, and protests by hundreds of activists also took place in Guatemala and El Salvador.
Similar sentiments were expressed in Spain, where hundreds of thousands marched in dozens of cities, including Moron de la Frontera, which houses a military base used by the U.S. air force in its war preparations. The Spanish government has supported Washington's moves toward war.
"To start a war is hopeless," former Danish prime minister Anker Joergensen told 6,000 at a rally in Copenhagen. "It's important to remove the dictatorship (in Iraq) but not through war."
No War! placards proliferated around the world, carried by students in Bucharest, Romania, and Japanese seniors with memories of the Second World War suffering. Many demonstrations were organized by leftist parties, unions and peace groups.
Organizers of an event in
Washington - a rally near the Washington Monument followed by a march around
the White House and back - asked people to leave whatever they are doing
on the day that war starts, and walk outside in protest.
© The Canadian Press, 2003
Thousands more turned out
in Tokyo, Calcutta, Buenos Aires, Yemen, Frankfurt, Moscow, Turkey, Cairo,
Amman, Beirut, many Palestinian cities and refugee camps, Bangkok, Seoul,
Montreal, Toronto, Moscow and many other cities and countries -- one day
after millions of European workers conducted work stoppages to protest
Now Bush stands virtually alone, flying to Azores to hold a photo shoot with the only heads of state who will stand with him, doing so against the overwhelming will of their own countries' populations. The image of these men was striking -- standing by themselves in an island in the Atlantic, plotting the first world war of the 21st century, surrounded by 6 billion opponents. Behind them, their image makers had to bring multiple flags for each of their countries to fill out the otherwise empty flag backdrop.
The Bush administration signaled on Sunday that it is determined to defy world public opinion and to continue its rush towards war. While Bush can order war - he can't make it happen without the cooperation of people world wide. If the war starts we must be organized to resist the war machine.
- - - - - This e-mail was originally dispatched to our VoteNoWar members. ------