Socialist Worker

Voices from the world's biggest global anti-war protest

Issue No. 1839

The 15 February protest in Poland

The 15 February protest in Poland

'IN TURKEY there were demonstrations in Istanbul, Adana, Ankara, Izmir, Zonguldak, Izmit, Antalya and Mugla. In Istanbul thousands marched in a lively demo. Around half the demo was made up of Kurds who were protesting at both the war on Iraq and attacks on the Kurds here, which have increased with the drive to war.

There were many arrests before the protest. Police stopped 'dark looking people' from using transport to get to the march. Their objective was to stop Kurds from attending, carrying placards in Kurdish, or referring to the Kurdish issue. There were clashes with police at assembly points.

After the rally all the speakers on the platform were arrested, but later released. Those arrested included two stars of Turkey's most popular TV comedy show. In Friday night's episode the TV family had announced that they were going to the demo.

At the Turkey-Ukraine football match on Thursday a young unemployed man ran onto the pitch with a banner saying 'War means unemployment - no to war'. The prime minister and foreign minister were there and smiled uneasily as the entire stadium chanted 'No to war'.

On Saturday night the 'one minute darkness' campaign started. At 8pm every night people turn their lights off for a minute as an anti-war protest. People go out onto their balconies and bang pots and pans, or hold local marches. There were many such marches in Istanbul on Saturday night.'

'AUSTRALIA WAS engulfed by the biggest demonstrations in its history last weekend. Almost one million people joined in protests in towns and cities right across Australia.

This means that around 5 percent of the entire population demonstrated. There were four demonstrations of 100,000 or more. The largest of them was in Sydney, where between 300,000 and 500,000 took part. The massive size of the protests has thrown the Tory government of John Howard onto the defensive.

Along with Tony Blair, Howard is one of Bush's most reliable allies. Howard has dispatched warships, fighter jets and troops to the Gulf. This is despite polls showing that as little as 6 percent of the Australian population support the drive to war.

In Sydney a feeder march of 10,000 trade unionists joined with the main demonstration. Unions in Melbourne have agreed to walk off the job for a mass lunchtime rally if war goes ahead.'
JARVIS RYAN, International Socialist Organisation, Australia

'AROUND 3,000 people braved their way to the US embassy at Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. The demonstration was illegal. People were advised not to participate and told that the police would take stern action against those who did.

The warning did not deter the thousands who came to the streets today. The demonstration was unique. There were Muslims and non-Muslims side by side, anarchists, socialists, democrats, liberals and Islamists. The slogans and chanting were in many different languages. All united in opposing the war against Iraq and calling for world peace.

'THERE WERE about 5,000 people in Shibuya, one of the most popular towns among young people in Japan. There were ever more people who watched our march on the streets and from the shops.

A dramatic day, with younger people coming for the rally against war on Iraq. In other parts of Japan many rallies and marches were also held. Around US military bases here we had US war veterans joining protests. We in Japan are really learning to be part of the world.'

'MORE THAN 800 people marched in a vibrant and lively demo called by the Stop the War Alliance at the British army base in Dhekelia, Cyprus. The choice of the location was made because of the role of the bases during the coming war on Iraq, but also because it borders with the northern and southern sides of the island.

The demonstrators barred the military runway for an hour and using white paint they wrote on the asphalt roadway of the air lane 'NO WAR'. From there the demonstrators marched on to Pyla village where there was a giant screen showing via satellite the great mobilisations in the various capitals of the world.

There were difficulties in communication with the northern Turkish part of Cyprus, due to the political situation. But a few Turkish Cypriots who managed to make it, together with Turkish Cypriots living in the mixed village of Pyla, joined in the demonstration. It was the first time that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have taken part together in an anti-imperialist demonstration.'

'COLD WEATHER and rain didn't stop around 1,000 Maltese people joining millions around the world protesting. We assembled with banners, posters, drums and flags. 'Enough Is Enough' from the band Chumbawamba came from the sound system.

Activists left all our differences behind to shout with one voice against war. Sounds of unity from the speaker system challenged the dull, sad sky and people danced in the streets. Afterwards an anti-war concert was held in the capital, Valletta.'

'THE BIGGEST demo ever in Oslo, the capital of Norway - more than 60,000 people. On the streets on Saturday you could not see anyone who was not part of the huge anti-war demonstration.

There wasn't even enough space for everyone in the biggest square, where the demo was starting, so people filled all the streets around shouting, dancing, singing, jumping and clapping. They were part of a global protest. They could feel they were making history. There were 15,000 protesting in both Bergen and Trondheim, and 10,000 in Stavanger too, as well as smaller protests in at least 30 towns across Norway. More than 100,000 marched in Norway in all on Saturday - making it the biggest protest since 1917.

The vice-chair of the LO [the Norwegian TUC] was one of the speakers. He said, 'Bush only cares about American oil interests'.'

'CONGRATULATIONS from Luxembourg for the great success of the London demonstration. We too had a big success in our protest. It was the biggest peace demonstration in Luxembourg's history. We were 14,000 united for peace and justice!'

'OVER 30,000 people took to the streets of the Austrian capital, Vienna, in our biggest anti-war march ever. What a beautiful front of this march! The 'Stop the War' banner made by the Austrian Social Forum was carried by members of the Arab community, mixed with trade union contingents from public sector workers, metal workers, railways and chemical workers. 'This system is rotten,' we heard over and over again. Many school students were convinced that we have to fight the system that breeds war. A new anti-capitalist generation shaped a historic day.'


'OVER 20,000 people marched against war on Iraq last Saturday in towns and cities around New Zealand. It was the biggest anti-war mobilisation since Vietnam, a huge leap forward for the movement.

Anti-war actions were held in more than 20 centres across the country, with massive marches in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, 10,000 people rallied, marched and chanted their way through the city centre. 'No blood for oil, on Iraqi soil!' rang out as the huge march forced police to shut down all four lanes and the entire length of Queen Street. People were still leaving the starting point as the march reached a rally in Myers Park several kilometres away.

In Wellington march organisers were forced to lead the protest past the planned end point as the crowd of 5,000 people was too big to fit in the park. After an anti-war concert in Auckland on Sunday hundreds marched to the prime minister's residence. As they marched, tired but ecstatic, they were chanting 'Send the MPs off to war. Give their houses to the poor!''

'TEN THOUSAND people marched against the war in Warsaw - that's 20 times more than the biggest previous anti-war protest, and is the biggest anti-war demonstration ever in Poland. Coaches came from various towns and cities. Many young people made their own way to Warsaw.

There was unprecedented unity on the demonstration - socialists, Catholics, ecologists, Iraqis and other Arabs living in Poland, Muslims, a group of Chechen refugees, trade unionists, pacifists, farmer party members, human rights activists, anarchists and the unaffiliated. The demonstrators marched through central Warsaw to the US embassy. The march was festive, with Arab and anti-war music, and drummers.

Most of all you felt the outrage at the prospect of mass murder by Bush's war machine helped by his pathetic allies - and a real sense that we were all part of a global movement.

Poland is seen by the world's media as a place everyone supports US presidents. Prime minister Leszek Miller visited Washington to promise his undying love for Bush. Poland's president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, is so servile to Bush he has been tipped as a possible future NATO secretary general. The demonstrators chanted 'Miller, Kwasniewski - Bush's two little doggies.' This rhymes in Polish! This global movement can stop Bush.'
PRACOWNICZA DEMOKRACJA (Workers Democracy), Poland

'UP TO 150,000 people crammed the streets of Dublin against the war on Saturday in the biggest political demonstration for generations. It was headed up by trade union banners. Other contingents included local groups of the Irish anti-war movement, samba bands and street theatre.

Coachloads of protesters arrived from around the country including contingents from Waterford, Galway and Cork. University student Orla said, 'In my college we have been building for weeks. The turnout is much bigger than we ever expected. This show of opposition should make Irish taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern think again about allowing US warplanes to use Shannon airport.'

The demonstrators heard a call for a ten-minute work stoppage immediately any US-led war on Iraq begins. Meanwhile in the North, Belfast saw the largest demonstration of its kind in history, as 20,000 people turned out in the city to oppose war. Scores of banners from political, trade union and other organisations brought colour to the protest.'

'HALF A million people flooded the streets of Berlin in the biggest peace demonstration in post-war Germany. Demonstrators carried self made placards saying 'No war' and 'No blood for oil'. 'This war is not about justice. The Iraqi people will not be liberated - they will be bombed into bits. This demonstration shows that the warmongers are isolated, not the peace movement,' says Jenny, a school student from Berlin.

Willi is a pensioner from the east German town of Gšrlitz: 'I'm very proud to be part of this global movement against war. I support Gerhard Schršder's stance against the war. But he should not only talk against the war, but do something - shut down the US military bases in Germany.'

'WE WERE over 1,000 on Jan Palach Square in Prague. There were many different people - young activists, parents with children, old people, foreigners from the whole world. It was something new in Prague.

There were music and speeches and then we moved to the residence of the Czech government. We handed in petitions. Then we marched to the US embassy where people chanted, 'George Bush is the real terrorist.'

Similar protests took place in Brno and Ostrava, the two biggest Czech cities after Prague. The Czech government is supporting Bush. Lots of protesters carried home-made banners.'

'MORE THAN 40,000 anti-war protesters packed the narrow streets of the Swiss capital, Berne, on Saturday. It was one of the most important national demonstrations since the Second World War. More than 90 percent of the Swiss population oppose the Bush-Blair imperial war.

Also on 31 January here 4,000 young people went on strike and demonstrated from the US embassy to the UN in Geneva. They called for nationwide stoppages and demonstrations if Bush and Blair go ahead with their criminal war plans. The Swiss anti-war movement does not consider Saturday's demonstration to be an end - it's a great beginning.'
PIERRE VANEK, Berne, Switzerland

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