Socialist Worker

Tens of thousands show we have not gone away

Issue No. 1845

TENS OF thousands of people took to the streets of Britain last Saturday as part of the Stop the War Coalition's day of action. 'Over 15,000 marched in Edinburgh,' says Mick Napier. 'The mood was determined. Speaker after speaker called for the immediate end to the invasion. Susan Karim, an Iraqi, used information from her relatives inside Iraq to describe the horrors being visited on the heads of ordinary Iraqis by the invading American and British forces.'

'Around 3,000 people marched through Newham in east London on Saturday,' says Paul McGarr. 'It was the biggest protest seen in the borough for many years. The march targeted local Labour MP and government minister Stephen Timms over his backing for war, and saw a particularly impressive mobilisation of the borough's significant Asian community.'

'Over 2,500 people took part in a vibrant anti-war march through Oxford,' reports Zaid from the local Stop the War Coalition. 'This was the biggest demonstration in Oxford for many years. The march united people of many different backgrounds.' 'A demonstration of over 2,000 people took place in Sheffield,' says Jason from the Stop the War Coalition there.

'Marches from Sharrow, Heeley, Hunters Bar, and Walkley areas converged on the town centre. Coffins were brought in, symbolising the dead on all sides.' From Nottingham John Shemeld reports, 'Up to 1,000 people protested in the Old Market Square then set off on an impromptu march. We sat down on the busiest junction in the city, clapping and chanting 'Join us! Stop the war!'' 'Some 1,500 took part in a protest in Birmingham city centre,' reports Rosemary Cragg. We demonstrated around the main shopping area then moved off towards the BBC, to the shock of the police. Protesters blocked a major dual carriageway and part of the inner ring road. The protest continued until a delegation was allowed into the BBC studios to be interviewed by the local radio station.'

'Over 1,000 people demonstrated in Manchester against the war and biased media coverage,' reports Duncan Omand. 'Marches from Platt Fields Park in south Manchester and Cheetham Hill in north Manchester met outside the headquarters of the BBC. They then blocked traffic for an hour.' ''Tony Blair, BBC - how many lies have you told to me?'

'That chant could be heard inside the BBC's television centre in White City, west London, as 800 people protested outside,' says Kevin Ovenden. Marches from five different points in the area converged to protest at the BBC's coverage of the war. 'There were precisely 178 people on the march from Shepherd's Bush, just one of the marches. The BBC's teletext 'reported' that just 150-200 people had gathered outside the television centre.'

'Around 800 demonstrators blocked the roads in Hackney, east London,' says Matthew Cookson. 'Around 500 marched in Cambridge in a lively demo through the town centre in a very noisy protest,' says Andy Lay.

'There were around 600 on the march in Cardiff,' reports Teresa Goss. 'Some 500 people marched through Lewisham and Greenwich in south east London,' reports Pete Robinson. 'Around 500 protesters assembled in Liverpool city centre, and marched to the town hall,' says Daniel Swain.

'Some 500 local people marched in Haringey, north London,' reports Simon Hester. 'Marches from Peckham, Camberwell, Dulwich and Clapham converged on Brixton, south London, as around 750 people protested,' says Phil Whaite. 'Around 200 people marched through Swansea shopping centre,' reports Martin Chapman. 'A lively group of about 50 people gathered outside the army recruitment offices in Middlesbrough,' says Jeff Fowler.

'About 70 people joined a rally in Brentford, despite police banning a demonstration,' says Jeremy Taylor.

'An 80-strong march through the Medway Towns, from Chatham to Rochester, was lively, enthusiastic and loud,' says Kent Stop the War Coalition. Poplar MP Jim Fitzpatrick was forced to debate with around 70 anti-war protesters outside his east London surgery last Friday evening.

'Around 250 people marched through Chesterfield,' says Martin Hall. 'This was the first anti-war march in Chesterfield and was positive.' 'For up to three hours the Market Square in Walthamstow, east London, was filled with the noise of hooters, whistles, drums, saucepans, cymbals and one recorder,' says Roger Huddle.

'In Ilford, police attempts to criminalise protesters backfired when they arrested the march organiser,' reports Yuri Prasad. 'Around 100 people gathered outside the police station to demand her release, forcing the station to be shut down. After two hours over 200 had gathered. The organiser was charged and then released.'

Around 250 people demonstrated through Colchester. ''No to the war! No to the Nazis!' were the slogans on a 500-strong march through Southampton on Saturday,' says Mark Abel. 'Claiming that they are against the war on Iraq, the BNP is making its first foray into local elections in the city.'

'A 200-strong, very vocal demo was seen in Hove,' says Cath Senker. 'On Saturday 75 protesters formed a human chain either side of the high street and alongside St Albans market,' reports Dave Barnes.

The pro-war rally flops

EVERY terrestrial and most satellite news channels could barely contain their excitement at the weekend that they'd finally found a pro-war demonstration. Saturday's demonstration was a flop. No more than 250 people turned up for what had originally been built as a 'Support our boys' rally, but which the organiser also described as a pro-war gathering to some journalists.

Several of the people who did turn up were less than pleased with that change: 'I'm against the war but my son's out there and I need to support him,' said one. That reflects a lot of the views we've heard in an area where a lot is made of the connections to the military, we've had a lot of support from service families and reservists.

One person untroubled by the shift towards a pro-war position, though, was local Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who turned up and spoke.
Richard Bradbury

The global movement

BIG PROTESTS swept the world last week. At least 200,000 people marched in Jakarta in Indonesia on Sunday. 'The spirit of Seattle has finally come to Japan,' says Taka Kataoka. '70,000 people took to the streets to oppose the war.' Millions of workers stopped work against war in Spain last week. Many universities had strikes.

Hundreds of thousands of people went onto their balconies in Barcelona to bang saucepans against the war on Wednesday of last week. The same happened in Madrid on Thursday. In Boston in the US 50,000 people joined the biggest demonstration since the Vietnam War.

Over 100,000 people protested across Germany, including 50,000 in Berlin. Some 2,000 people protested in Poland. The same number demonstrated in Budapest, Hungary. Around 10,000 people marched in Paris and Dublin. Demonstrations were also held in Moscow, Montevideo in Uruguay, across Italy and Bogota in Colombia. Some 15,000 people marched in Athens, Greece, on Sunday and 5,000 in Nicosia, Cyprus. A general strike is set for Greece on Thursday.

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Sat 5 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1845
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