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Baghdad Bombings Fuel Fourth Day of Global Protests; US Vets Say No to War
Published on Sunday, March 23, 2003 by Agence France Presse
Baghdad Bombings Fuel Fourth Day of Global Protests; US Vets Say No to War

US veterans were planning to march on American war memorials with images of US bombs pounding Baghdad fuelling a fourth day of global protests against the war of Iraq.

An unidentified Vietnam War Veteran walks during a 'Veterans for Peace' march in Washington March 23, 2003. President Bush on Sunday warned Iraqis they would be punished as 'war criminals' if they mistreated U.S. prisoners, and said the United States was just beginning a tough fight for Iraq. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
More than a million people protested across Europe and North America on Saturday, and although the crowd numbers have fallen from earlier demonstrations, passions continued to run high.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone claimed Saturday's march in the British capital was "the largest demonstration against a war that is in progress in British history."

And MP Alice Mahon said US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "have managed to radicalise a whole generation. This peace movement is growing hour by hour."

Police said more than 40,000 Australians took part Sunday in a fourth day of protests in Sydney, Adelaide and the capital Canberra to denounce Prime Minister John Howard's decision to commit some 2,000 troops to the US-led force.

About 100 families also demonstrated in Melbourne at a rally dubbed "Babies Against Bombs" to highlight the threat to children posed by the war.

Many of the protests which have flared since Thursday's launch of the war to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein have been led by young people, skipping school by their thousands in support of Iraqi children.

"Tony Blair should listen to his people rather to his best friend Bush," said 14-year-old Beatrice Morris in London. "America is a military-based country and has the idea that it's more powerful than the rest of the world."

An aerial view shows a peace symbol formed with rolled up parachutes in Ronneburg near Frankfurt, March 23, 2003. About 100 members of a German Paraglide team formed the symbol to protest against the U.S.-led war against Iraq. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
The Sydney protest began after a prayer service led by the city's Anglican Dean Phillip Jensen who told the congregation that war was a foretaste of hell -- "hellish in its horror and destruction ... and hellish in its suffering".

Meanwhile in the United States, Veterans Against Iraq War, who launched their three-day "Operation Dire Distress" with a conference in Washington on Saturday, were planning a major demonstration in the capital on Sunday.

"While others pontificate and theorise about war, veterans know about its realities," the group said in a statement.

"The present administration is led by men and women who chose not to go into the military and today have little understanding of war and no comprehension of its consequences," it said.

War vets are planning to assemble at Constitution Gardens on Mall at midday, and will hold a solemn procession to Vietnam, Korea, World War II memorials, as well as march to the Veterans Administration and White House with rally on the Ellipse.

The war has also fuelled widespread anger among Muslim countries who see it as a "crusade" by Bush against Islam.

More than 100,000 Pakistanis take to the streets holding banners condemning the U.S.-led attacks on Iraq and demanding an immediate end to the war in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore Sunday March 23, 2003. Anti-war protests have been staged by angry Pakistanis daily since the war started Thursday. Pakistan, a key ally in the 18-month US-led war on terrorism, has said it 'deplored' the military action. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)
More than 100,000 people took to the streets of the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore Sunday demanding an immediate end to the war.

Amid chants of "Allah-o-Akbar" (God is great), protesters carried banners reading "Stop spilling blood, no to US terrorism" and "Iraqi Muslims, we are with you."

It was the first large-scale demonstration against the invasion since US and British bombs and cruise missiles began raining down on Iraq at dawn Thursday.

More than 1,500 Indonesians also staged noisy but peaceful anti-war rallies in Jakarta including in front of the missions of the United States, Britain and Australia.

A rally in front of the tightly guarded US embassy lasted for some three hours ended with the burning of an effigy of Bush and the reading of a joint statement demanding an immediate halt to the war.

There were also major demonstrations in the southern Jordanian town of Maan, an Islamist stronghold, on Sunday, denouncing the US-led military action.

"Almost all the students of Al-Hussein University in Maan protested on campus in a show of support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein," one witness told AFP. The university has 4,000 students on its roll.

Even the world of sport was not immune, with up to 1,000 anti-war protestors rallying outside the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg while the Cricket World Cup final between Australia and India was under way.

"We hope Australia loses the World Cup because (Prime Minister) John Howard supports the war in Iraq," Anti-War Coalition spokesman Trevor Ngwane told AFP.

In the United States, some of the anger was reserved for the major television networks accused by demonstrators of dumbing down the realities of war to make it one long video game.

One marcher outside the White House on Saturday, Feza Baydur of Turkey, carried a sign reading: "CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC - Weapons of Mass Deception."

While between 15,000 and 20,000 people picketed the CNN studios in Los Angeles while others at the Atlanta headquarters protested the cable network's coverage of the war for being biased toward the United States, organisers said.

"They make this look like a John Wayne movie," said protester Elvis Woods. "You watch CNN and all you get are explosions and video of tanks and guns. Nobody questions whether this is right or not."

Copyright © 2003 AFP


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