Anti-war demos span the globe

Millions protested in hundreds of cities, in at least 37 countries around the globe Jan. 18-19 weekend, denouncing the Bush administration’s threat to attack Iraq. Some highlights:

Canada: Many thousands demonstrated in over 30 cities including Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Edmonton and Saskatoon. Participants included students, labor, families with children. The United Church of Canada has taken an official stand against a U.S.-led war in Iraq, and church members have been encouraged to participate in demonstrations.

Turkey: Thousands demonstrated Jan. 19 to protest the impending arrival of U.S. Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a meeting with the head of Turkey’s army. Polls show 80 percent of Turks oppose war in Iraq.

France: Tens of thousands demonstrated in over 40 French cities Jan. 18, rallying in Paris behind a slogan reading “No to war against Iraq, Yes to a world of justice, peace and democracy.” The opposition Socialist Party planned to distribute half a million copies of a petition to the government to use its veto power in a UN Security Council vote on authorizing use of force against Iraq. (On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said France might indeed do that.) About 40 national organizations, labor unions and left political parties sponsored the rallies.

Egypt: Cairo’s Sayeda Zeynab Square was the site of a protest Saturday against war with Iraq and in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Demonstrators called on the government to prevent U.S. and British warships from using the Suez Canal on route to a possible assault on Iraq. Also on Friday, a number of women held a sit-in outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Japan: After a concert in a central Tokyo park, thousands – many in traditional costumes and others masked to represent President Bush – took to the streets. Banners carried slogans such as, “Why Iraq?” and “War is not the answer.” One poster showed Bush as a kimono-clad Japanese warlord, with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as his retainers. “Is it really all right to follow Bush?” the poster asked.

Britain: In London, hundreds gathered for a vigil at Parliament Square, where they heard former Labor Member of Parliament Tony Blair say any action against Iraq should be approved by the UN and get the support of the British people. About 200 protesters defied the Official Secrets act by taking photos of the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the British Armed forces in Northwood, command post for rapid deployment forces that would play a key role in an attack on Iraq. Elsewhere, actions took place in Liverpool, Bradford, Birmingham, Nottingham and other cities.

Syria: Tens of thousands marched through Damascus, blocking traffic for hours. Protesters shouted, “Down with the U.S.,” and carried banners reading: “Iraq: a history and a civilization, not an oil well.”

Mexico: Demonstrators gathered in Mexico City, and at the international bridge between Mexico and the U.S. near Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, meeting there with U.S. groups from across the border.

Argentina: A march led by the Mothers of the Plaza del Mayo went to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires on Jan. 16.

The author can be reached at cpusainternat@mindspring.com