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Round up report of worldwide anti-war demonstrations March 18th

Paul O'Hanlon | 18.03.2006 23:06 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | London | World

This is a 560 word round up of the main anti-war demonstrations of Saturday 18th March with 8 photos.

Round up report of worldwide anti-war demonstrations
Saturday 18th March 2006

Saturday March 18th saw the third anniversary of the US led invasion and occupation of Iraq. There were over 250 demonstrations around the world including protests in Iraq itself – in Basra and Baghdad. The UK demonstration was in London where a march was held from Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square. The police estimate of 15,000 was widely quoted by the media including the early evening Channel 4 news and the BBC Radio 4 news. The march organisers feel this was the figure at the start of the march in Parliament Square but many more people joined afterwards giving a total of 80,000 to 100,000.

Here is how the BBC website reported the event:

Here is an early report from Indymedia along with some photos:

Here is the Channel Four News website report:

There were demonstrations in Australia where 500 took place in Sydney and in South Korea where an estimated 3,000 are due to take part on Sunday. Here is the early Al Jazeera report:

There were demonstrations in cities across the USA including New York, Washington DC, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Diego as well as smaller communities like Naples, Florida and Boise, Idaho. In Canada there protests in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Here is how CBS news reported the worldwide demos:

Here is the CNN version:

Here is a round up of reports in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Across Europe there were demonstrations in Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Almeria and Valencia) in Italy (Rome), in Denmark (Aalborg, Arhus and Copenhagen) in Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Stockholm and Paris. Eastern Europe saw demonstrations in Warsaw and Slovenia.

Africa saw events in Egypt, the Sudan and South Africa while South American protests took place in Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Ecuador.

In Scotland there was a small but lively protest by the Donald Dewar (former Scottish first minister) statue. Several dozen people carried placards and banners reading `Make War History`, `No to Nuclear War` and `Hands off Iran`. The Bob Dylan song `Masters of War ` was played:

♫ Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks ♫

There were chants of “Troops out of Iraq, hands off Iran!” as the 2 and a half hour protest finished around 2.30pm.

The US military are engaged in a savage bombing campaign against Samarra, north of Baghdad – there was little coverage of this in the media. There was a small piece on page 6 of the `Daily Mirror` headlined `US Troops in major air attack`. The Daily Express had a paragraph at the bottom of page 25 saying `-1,500 American and Iraqi troops intensified their blitz on insurgent strongholds 60 miles north of Baghdad. ` There was no mention at all of this in the Sun or Daily Record and nothing on the front pages of the Independent, Times or Guardian. There was nothing about this attack, which involved some 50 US helicopters, on the early evening Channel Four news or 7.30pm BBC1 news or BBC Radio 4 10.00pm news.

8 labelled photos are attached.

Word count 565 words

Paul O'Hanlon
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Hide the following 11 comments

Good day

19.03.2006 00:27

Heading towards Piccadilly circus
Heading towards Piccadilly circus

I don't know how many people were there, but it was certainly lots. And there was a new route too, which made a change :) People do complain about A to Bing, but I think it has it's place and is certainly 100% better than sitting at home doing nothing.


A to Being

19.03.2006 01:48

'I think it has it's place and is certainly 100% better than sitting at home doing nothing.'

The march today had no effect on government policy, it simply made the marchers feel like they have made a difference when they have not. "If marching ever changed anything then it would be made illegal" to paraphrase an old friend.

All of us have already marched and been ignored. The numbers are declining again, but that isn't a bad thing for anyone.

For those of us who believe marching makes any difference, you make more of a percentage difference to the figures by your attendance the smaller the march is, the more difference you make by attending. Unless you are busy doing some other anti-war activity then it doesn't hurt.

For those who belive marching isn't enough, the declining figures mean we should compensate mass for momentum, which implies new and more forceful strategies with fewer, more committed participants.


That's your opinion

19.03.2006 01:55

"People do complain about A to Bing, but I think it has it's place and is certainly 100% better than sitting at home doing nothing."

As one of the 1.5 million who was on the Feburary 15, 2003 march against the Iraq war, I was once confident that even if the Iraq war was to happen, the mass resistance around the world would mean that the war would be short-lived. Three bloody years of war and countless SWP parades through London later, and I personally feel that these marches have no impact on goverment policy, they will do what they like no matter what, so in the end I just decided to not have any impact on government policy at home.

Mr. Humph

Effective action

19.03.2006 02:21

-they will do what they like no matter what, so in the end I just decided to not have any impact on government policy at home.

They will kill whoever they like regardless of my petty actions so I just decided to stay at home while the killing went on ? You surely can't mean that. One tactic fails so you give up completely ? That means either your cause was false or you have no imagintion. I don't believe you on either count. Perhaps you don't know how to stop this war on your own, but I know you have ideas on how a group of like-minded individuals could be effective. Even if you disassociate yourself from the moral implications of what you say, you must be able to think up some ideas for the rest of us. Before you criticise, suggest, if only hypothetically. Real leaders only lead by example.



19.03.2006 09:08

Another series of marches, another set of placards with the same messages. What's the famous definition of madness,

"Repeating the same actions expecting a different result" ?

The Countryside Alliance showed everbody how to achieve change, they managed to alter the hunting law so it had no teeth through a campaign of SMALL public protest (you only ned a few people to look like a crowd on TV) with credible political lobbying, excellent PR and direct contact with MP's.

Another series of marches "calling for Blair to resign" will achieve nothing. What will it take to make the activists of Britian to understand the system ? Nobody cares if you dont vote, nobody cares if you march, nobody cares if you sit around in small groups telling each othr about how you have "proof" Blair is a war criminal, nobody cares if you refuse to eat meat or boycott M&$. None of this works, you are not achieving a change in the political will of the executive or changing the hearts and minds of the electorate.

You must, must, must use the political system. Galloway may well be odious but he gets things done because he knows the system, Millitant in Liverpool used the system and for a while achieved change. Even Scargill finally recognised the "workers" were not going to rise up in revolution so he formed a political movement.

Change is achieved through politics not through another bloody march !



19.03.2006 15:52

The problem is that I wish to avoid being arrested and sent to prison, since (a) I personally want to do more with my life then rot in a prison cell (b) it's well documented that prison is a far from friendly place, so I feel that I cannot suggest any "militant" actions, since I am too chicken to do them myself.

Cue comments stating "you sad middle class hippie wanker" from all the anarchists who have seen through me and (probably rightly) feel that I am a big fake because I have let the State dictate how I conduct my life....

Mr. Humph

mr humph,

19.03.2006 18:01

don't beat yourself up because you want to stay out of prison. direct action should be collective (and isn't neccessarily illegal e.g. squatting/social centres/supporting soldiers with doubts - that might be illegal?). We shouldn't fetishise individual militant actions over others, some people have kids/jobs etc and can't risk it. We live in a State and it does have an immense coercive capacity, which we all are effected by. Respect to those militant comrades but also to all the others working against the war and capital; my 'beef' with StWC is the insistence on obedient, authorised dissent, which goes against everything we know about effective resistance from th Chartists, Suffragettes, US Civil Rights, Gandhi etc. Fuck the law, stop the war ;-)


Mr. Humph

19.03.2006 19:06

I just get extremely frustrated because the war machine seems to go on regardless of the amount of protesting that takes place. IMO it would be a lot more effective if the 10,000 odd who regularly go on Stop the War marches instead went and simultanously blockaded power stations, arms factories, military bases and oil refineries, basically disrupting the economy and causing a shockwave through the country that people will find hard to ignore. The problem though is that quite a lot of people could turn against the anti-war movement for going "too far", and of course the Murdoch press will be at hand to villify the protest. Also if we piss off the State too much there could be violent reprecussions towards activists across the land, although that fact shouldn't mean that people are put off from doing it. But what does it matter anyway, the powers that be in the SWP (which the StWC effectively is in all but name) would never try and do anything so daring. Suppose the best solution is to carry on chipping away at the system with the 101 multiudes of DIY activists like the afforementions squats, social centres, etc. Ho hum.

Yeah well you're probably right "(A)"

Marching is valid as well.

19.03.2006 22:26

Demos are not the be-all and end-all, but they are one of a range of grass roots actions that remind our ‘rulers’ of the ‘crises of democracy’; i.e. that we, the masses, would like a say in the running of our world. Importantly, as well, mass demos remind us that we are not alone; that we are many, they are few; and that the potential exists for a truly democratic society.

Demonstrating did not stop the war in Iraq, and has not put an end to the occupation. Conservative estimates around a year ago put the death toll in Iraq at around 100,000. The situation the occupiers have created in Iraq ensures that that figure is probably now around 50 percent higher: in short, a pretty crap result! Demonstrating has not prevented the noises being made reference Iran. Who knows what the outcome will be there?
Demonstrating alone is insufficient; there is no doubt about that.

Saying that though, if there had not been millions on the streets in the run up to the war and throughout the occupation, how many would have died? More than current levels? And would the present degree of interest among the general population (though obviously far from as high as we’d like) have existed had the demonstrators not shown and continued to show their opposition? And the numbers of those politicised in recent years: would that have occurred without demos as a forum for uniting and exchanging ideas with others? Many people (like me) opposed the war but didn’t make too many links between war and privatisation, pensions, poverty, racism… Demos themselves, and building for them, provide an opportunity to help the masses of people such as me make those links, and change our focus from one of trying to end this war, to one of ending this and every war.

Those who want to do more than march should grow up and fall into line! Only joking! Maybe I’m wrong but I can’t imagine that you’d find too many marchers (probably a few though) overly opposed to those who’d rather participate in non-violent direct action. Anything that inconveniences the warmongers is surely valid. But we have to recognise that not everyone that marches is necessarily opposed to the state (yet!) and doesn’t see the link between opposing war and “disrupting the economy”. When 95,000 anti-war demonstrators come together with 5000 politicised ones, how many politicised demonstrators leave? And how many future non-violent direct activists? In both cases, the answer is without doubt more than before the demo.

"If marching ever changed anything then it would be made illegal" (see equation’s comment above). Thank God for that. Here was me (and thousands others) thinking I had been arrested for nothing more than demonstrating. I’ll let the judge know that and surely I’ll get an official apology from the Prime Minister. We live in what’s referred to as a democracy: we have an effective voice in the running of our society; we have a free press and therefore an informed populace; and we have the right to demonstrate peacefully without being arrested… Surely anyone who bothers to read and participate in this discussion doesn’t really believe that. Surely anyone who has been on a demo over the last few years is aware that demonstrating has been increasingly criminalised. Surely those who truly care about what’s going on in the world can put the inconvenience of the (still slight) risk of the odd night in the cells and the accompanying financial penalty in perspective. Perhaps then, to use the logic of equation, imperfect as it is, marching must be changing something ‘cos it has been made illegal.

Kevin Connor
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Reply to above post

21.03.2006 10:42

Personally I agree whole-heartedly that marches are not the be all and end all, but are merely one possible tactic among many that can be used. However, I think it is necessary to be realistic about what marches can achieve and when other forms of protest may be necessary:

The previous poster puts forward a number of arguments in favour of marches, namely that 1) they remind rulers for the crisis of democracy, 2) they create solidarity among marchers, 3) they show potential for future society, 4) they act to politicise people. Taking each in turn:

1) In these days of constant opinion polls and focus groups I think its fair to say that Blair etc have a fairly good idea of the extent to which democracy is or is not in crisis and the impact this is likely to have on his polling figures without the need of a demonstration - ultimately, that's why he pays people like Phillip Gould and other pollsters large amounts of money. Moreover, it seems to me that while support for the war has increased over the last three years, the number of people marching has declined dramatically. In other words, the marches have ceased to be any indication of the extent to which people are against the war.

2) I'd agree that marches can create meaningful solidarity among marchers and wouldn't want to discount this. Realistically, however, this happens most often at the start of a campaign. For example, when people first started protesting against the war in Afghanistan there was a real need to feel that you were not alone and that other people were prepared to stand up and be counted at a time when lots of people felt isolated. At the stage we are now in I don't think marches are a meaningful form of solidarity - everyone knows there are lots of people with the same point of view and there is no longer any real sense that you need solidarity to continue to be against the war. The same holds for international solidarity - I think a good case can be made for the initial marches in showing people in Iraq that they were not alone, but the value of that has diminished over time and, moreover, assumes that the best way of showing solidarity is a mass march rather than more meaningful and personal contact with those you are supposedly in solidarity with.

3) I suppose the extent marches show the potential for a future society depends on the form any anti-war march takes. The form of all the anti-war marches strikes me as having been focussed on protesting against the war (obviously necessary), without having linked this to any sort of sense of what positive values we are actually for. Make a list of all the positive values that our future society may be based on (creativity, imagination, genuine solidarity, spontaneity, openness etc etc) and then ask whether the marches genuinely expressed these values or not. Then ask whether anyone not on the march will have seen the expression of these values.

4) I think we'd probably agree that marches by themselves do little to "politicise" people. I think marches may do a job at the start of a campaign to raise awareness but are largely pretty rubbish at doing the types of things that are going to actually change people's opinions about things. Very little discussion takes place, not everyone listens to the speeches and, anyway, those giving the speeches largely just say what everyone wants to hear. Ultimately, if you really want to politicise people then there are countless ways better than a march, especially once a campaign has already done the job of raising awareness.

I think all this needs to be weighed up against the huge amount of effort that must go into making a march possible. Lots of people give lots of time up to organise these marches. Could they be organised in different ways? Could different approaches be taken? Why does there seem to be a lack of discussion and automatic assumption in the StWC that a march is always the way forward?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that marches are inherently wrong and do not achieve anything (I think a case can possibly be made for the initial marches, even though I still think they were not by any means ideal). I just think that there is a spectacular assumption of the part of StWC that marches are suitable at all times and a lack of any real justification for why they should continue to take place. I think the question is not why don't people join the StWC and work for change from inside, but why, given the tactical choices they have taken, people should not do their own thing outside the StWC.

BTW, I also think this means that there is a huge criticism of those of us outside the StWC as to why we have been so beguiled by the StWC. Ultimately they're quite right to ask us why, if we don't like the way they do things, we don't just do it ourselves?


The Kurds didn't march against the war.

24.03.2006 12:48

The Kurds didn't march against the war whose enemies are both the former Saddam Baath regime and now the Sunni dominated insurgents. Not only that but the Kurds have not risen up against the allies in Kurdish regions of Iraq where the allies are almost completly safe from insurgent attacks. There are far more Kurds than there are Palestinians, so why don't you respect the wishes of the Kurds? Why are there no posts from Kurdish leaders on Indymedia?

Friend of the Kurds.