Major mobilisations against the war were due to take place across the world this weekend and next. In Italy three days of action described by the Il Manifesto newspaper as ‘against the war and the World Trade Organisation’ were planned, culminating in a national march in Rome.
A series of opinion polls shows there is no doubt about the anti-war mood among ordinary people in the Middle East and Central Asia, despite the backing some of those regimes have given to the US-led war. The Al Ahdat al Maghribia newspaper in Morocco found 90 percent of people opposed the war.
A poll in the Istanbul Milliyet paper found 71 percent of people in Turkey oppose the war. In the Central Asian state of Kirghizstan 71 percent also oppose the bombing. According to the Jordanian Times, some 82 percent of people in Jordan oppose the bombing.
The last week has also seen significant anti-war protests in many countries. In Australia over 7,000 people joined rallies on Sunday. Over 5,000 marched in Sydney, with 700 in Brisbane, 600 in Adelaide, 700 in Perth and 500 in Melbourne. The centre of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, was brought to a standstill last week when 5,000 people joined an anti-war march during the rush hour.
‘On campus and off, anti-war movements see new vigour.’ That was how the Los Angeles Times last week described the small but growing movement in the US against the war. ‘Academics who study terrorism or the Middle East are taking part in teach-ins that are generally packed,’ reports the paper. ‘The voices of non-violence are heard in such places as Worcester, a working class city where a weekly vigil draws cheers from passers-by. A recent two-day swing took Middle Eastern specialist Stephen Zunes from the Bay Area to Los Angeles to Eugene, Oregon. His audiences were ‘big, enthused and agitated’. Boston University history professor Howard Zinn said he has been ‘besieged’ by invitations to speak about the war. ‘Things are starting earlier now than they did with the Vietnam War,’ Zinn said. ‘In the spring of 1965 we had 100 people on the Boston Common. Just a week or so ago, we had 2,000 people at Copley Square. It’s starting earlier, and I believe it will grow.”
Two major anti-war conferences were to take place this weekend in Boston and Berkeley.
Nearly 700 students attended the People & Planet conference in London last Sunday, which had been suspended for the Trade Justice demonstration. They came from groups in universities including Cambridge, Bradford, Sheffield and Leeds.
The audience broke into applause at the final rally when Jeremy Leggett, author of The Carbon War, attacked the war in Afghanistan. ‘Oil is the single biggest source of greenhouse gases, and that is why we are at war-to defend the US’s perceived right to imported oil from overseas,’ he said.
‘Three million Afghans who have fled our bombs face starvation. In my view it is blindingly obvious that we create more terrorists with every bomb and cluster bomb. There is the free trade agenda, the treaties the US administration has walked away from, including those on global warming, and they have the gall to come to the world for a coalition to support the bombing.’
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