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1st Anniversary of U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq

The world still says no to war

Haligonians declare: Occupation is not liberation!

Staff / News agencies. Photography by Mark Rushton and Tom Burger

HALIFAX (23 March 2004) -- On March 19-20, millions of people participated in actions against the Iraqi war and occupation on the occasion of the first anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

As part of the global protest of the occupation of Iraq and Palestine and that of more than 60 cities across Canada, over 500 Haligonians rallied on Saturday at the South Commons and marched through the city streets down to Barrington Street, up Spring Garden Road to South Park and back to the Commons. Passerbys waved or honked their car horns in support.

People carried placards and HALIFAX PROTEST banners saying No Blood for Oil, Dissarm Bush, and No Harbour for War! and Palestinian and CPC(M-L) flags.

Several speakers addressed the rally, including representatives of the Halifax Peace Coalition and Physicians for Social Responsibility.The Raging Grannies and others performed, including local singer/songwriter Dusty Sorbet who sang his composition "Washington Marching to Waterloo."
The final speakers were two youth who pointed to imperialism as the cause of war.

A large number of youth led the march. Other participants included Voice of Women, Council of Canadians, the Island Peace Committee (PEI), the Maritime Muslim Association, church groups, the Halifax People's Front and other organizations.

The Halifax People's Voice newsletter of the People's Front distributed throughout the march stated,"The Chrétien Liberals openly endorsed the aims of Bush and Blair, if not the 'methods'," citing how the government deceptively opened up the territory of Canada for refeuling flights for the USAF, deploying naval warships to the Persian Gulf, implementing security zones within Canadian military harbours, and intervened in Afghanistan and Haiti. It called for the establishment of an anti- war government.

Pictou County

The people of New Glasgow, NS, added their town to the growing list of places around the world opposing war. New Glasgow News Conference On March 19, members of the Iraq is Not for Sale Ad Hoc Committee held a lunctime gathering at the New Glasgow Library. Speakers included Katherine Hughes of River John, Rev. Lori Crocker, NDP MLA Charlie Parker, Teresa Love from Women for Peace, and Bernadette MacDonald from the Pictou County Women's Centre.

"We as citizens of the world concerned with social justice need to be telling our beighbours that the mass media is giving the wrong message," said MacDonald. "We're not challenging the type of corporate control to the level it needs to be challenged."

"The country is still occupied by a U.S. led force, and there has been a lot of things going on under the control of the U.S. that should be decided by the people of Iraq," Hughes said.

A statement from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was also read.


The world still says no to war

Iraq

On March 19, tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad, shouting "We will sacrifice for you Iraq, with our blood and soul." Carrying banners which read "No, no to occupation, no, no to dictatorship and yes, yes to unity," participants denounced the U.S. occupation and called for unity of all Iraqis. In Fallujah, hundreds of people gathered, calling for continuous resistance against the occupation forces.

Oceania

Australians and New Zealanders kicked off the March 20 Global Day of Action. Some 3,000 people participated in a demonstration in Sydney. Protesters held aloft an effigy of Prime Minister John Howard in a cage, saying it represented Australian detainees at the U.S. concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Chanting "U.S. out of the Middle East; No justice, No peace," they marched through the city's downtown shopping district.

Actions were also held in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart.

Asia

Some 120,000 people participated in actions in Japan with 30,000 taking to the streets in Tokyo. They called for the withdrawal of the 1,000 Japanese troops from Iraq, a foreign deployment that violates post-Second World War arrangements which prohibit the militarization of Japan.

Thousands of Koreans poured into the streets against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the recent trumped up impeachment of the President of the Republic of Korea Roh Moo-Hyun. Koreans have been holding daily demonstrations since against the impeachment since March 12.

In Hong Kong, about 100 demonstrators marched to the U.S. Consulate General, chanting slogans "Just peace, not war" and "Stop the war in the Middle East, for justice for peace."

Actions were also held in Bangkok, Thailand and the Philippines where demonstrators in Manila were attacked by riot police as they attempted to approach the U.S. Embassy.

Militant actions were also held in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Middle East

Around 2,000 people gathered in Cairo's central Tahreer Square, carrying banners which ridiculed the lies used by the U.S. and Britain to justify the aggression against Iraq.

Rallies also took place in Jordan and Bahrain. "Down! Down USA! America, Out! Out!" shouted more than 100 Syrians and Palestinians who marched in the main streets of Damascus.

Europe

Rome had the largest mobilization with as many as 2 million participants, organizers reported. They held a spirited march through the city which ended at the Circus Maximus park. Participants demanded that the 3,000 Italian troops in Iraq be withdrawn immediately.

In Spain, 150,000 people demonstrated in Barcelona. Thousands of people marched in an evening rally in Madrid which denounced both the Iraq war and the March 11 rail bombings in the city. The rally featured a large banner with a black sash as symbol of mourning which read: "End the occupation. Bring the troops home." This was in reference to the 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq which prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said will be withdrawn in June unless the United Nations takes over.

100,000 people marched through the centre of London. Signs called U.S. President Bush the "World's No. 1 Terrorist" and condemned the Blair government for its participation in an aggressive war. Two Greenpeace demonstrators also scaled the Big Ben clock tower, and unfurled banners that read "Time for Truth."

About 1,600 people attended a rally in Berlin while some 2,000 activists rallied outside the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in western Germany. Actions also took place in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich.

More than 10,000 people marched to the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, protesting the war against Iraq and the Greek government's plans to have NATO assist in the security of the August 13-29 Olympics.

Some 3,000 took to the streets of Amsterdam.

In Budapest, demonstrators formed a human peace sign and called for the withdrawal of Hungary's 300 troops from Iraq.

Rallies also took place in Iceland, Ireland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Turkey.

Latin Americah

Thousands of people took to the streets throughout Latin America, chanting slogans against imperialism and in favour of peace. In the face of U.S. provocations and interference in Latin America and the Caribbean, many of the mobilizations also expressed support for Cuba and Venezuela.

In Chile, more than 3,000 people marched in Santiago declaring: "We are not neutral, we aren't pacifists, we are in the anti-imperialist trenches" and "No war, no terrorism!"

In Sao Paulo, Brazil around 3,000 people took part in a demonstration that marched past U.S. companies such as McDonald's and BankBoston, shouting slogans against imperialism, the U.S. government, genetically modified crops and the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The Mexican Initiative Against the Imperialist War, Not in Our Name, organized a concert and protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Actions also took place in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

In Cuba, some 10,000 people gathered in Cueto in the province of Holguín. The previous day, the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL) held a meeting to mark the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Addressing ambassadors of member nations at the OSPAAAL headquarters in Havana, Executive Secretariat member Nguyen Xuan Vuong of Vietnam read a declaration against the war and occupation of Iraq, saying that it has caused the death of over 15,000 Iraqi civilians and great damage to the country's heritage. The declaration called on other international organizations and international public opinion to support the cause of the Iraqi people and to stop the U.S. occupation of what once was the cradle of civilization. Concerts, art exhibitions and conferences are also being planned in Cuba in the coming days to mark this anniversary and Palestinian Land Day on March 30.

In Argentina, the crew of the Arctic Sunrise, a ship belonging to Greenpeace, formed a peace symbol on the roof of the vessel. Twenty activists from Spain, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Colombia, Ghana, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and US took part.

United States

In the United States, some 250 actions were organized across the country with the largest convergences in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In New York, protesters gathered in midtown Manhattan for a rally before they set off on a two-hour march through the centre of the city in which some 100,000 people participated. A member of Military Families Speak Out who lost his son in Iraq said: "Bush lied, who died? My son. Bring our children home now!" A high school student from Virginia demanded that the Bush administration fund schools and education at a time when a considerable number of teachers do not even have enough textbooks for their students.

"We are calling for the U.S. occupation of Iraq to end immediately in accordance with the wishes of the Iraqi people and their right to self- determination and the wishes of the U.S. soldiers and the vast majority of people in the world," said Sarah Sloan of the International ANSWER Coalition. Carrying signs that read "Occupation in Iraq Wrong" and "Not One More Delay, Not One More Death, Not One More Deception," demonstrators marched through the streets, chanting anti- war slogans.

In Chicago, police in full riot gear lined downtown streets as thousands of people marched about two miles to the city's Federal Plaza. 50,000 people marched in San Francisco. Some 700 people, including military families and veterans, demonstrated at a park in Fayetteville, North Carolina, about five miles from Fort Bragg where the Army's 82nd Airborne Division is based. Some 800 people demonstrated in Crawford, Texas, Bush's hometown, chanting: "One, two, three, four, kick the liar out the door" amongst other slogans.

Actions were also held in Montpelier, Vermont; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania; Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Cincinnati, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; San Diego and Los Angeles, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington and hundreds of other locations.

Canada

Across Canada, people from all walks of life went into action in some 60 cities and towns. Besides opposing the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq and its continuing occupation, the day's events also opposed the occupation of Palestine and the recent U.S. coup in Haiti and the role of the Canadian government in it.

In Montreal, more than 7,000 people from all walks of life marched down St. Catherine Street led by the banner of the Collective Échec ŕ la Guerre. Montrealers were joined by delegations from Trois-Rivičres, Joliette and other locations. Placards read: "Canadian Troops Out of Afghanistan," "For an Anti-War Government," "Martin, We Want an Anti-War Foreign Policy," "Bush Terrorist! Martin Accomplice!," "Iraq Reconstruction = Recolonization!" "Occupation Troops Out of Iraq" amongst many others.

Palestinian and Haitian flags waved throughout the march.

Youth and students shouted out slogans demanding: No to War! Yes to Peace! No to Occupation! No to Missile Defence! Fund Education, Healthcare, Housing, Arts -- Not War! Youth performed street theatre against the war industry and the crimes committed by the U.S. around the world. Organizations took stands against the U.S. coup in Haiti, as well as against the attack on rights through the "war on terror." The march ended at the Government of Canada offices at Complexe Guy Favreau where various speakers addressed the rally.

Some 800 people also demonstrated in Quebec City.

Ottawa

More than 2,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill. The majority were students and young workers. Contingents from the Outaouais Cegep, University of Quebec at Hull, University of Ottawa, Carleton University and other educational centres were present. Placards read: "Bush is the Real Terrorist," "End the Occupation Now," "Annexation No, Sovereignty Yes," "U.S. Imperialists Out of Iraq" and "No to Fascism, No to Imperialist War."

Behind the banners of NOWAR/PAIX, Le Rassemblement Outaouais contre la guerre and Global Peace Coalition, the demonstrators took the streets to the Embassy of Israel, the British High Commission and the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND).

At DND, Sophie Harkat, the wife of Mohamed Harkat who has been in jail since December 2002 under a security certificate, condemned the use of such measures, the persecution of refugees and immigrants and the violation of rights in the name of "national security."

A speaker from the Polaris Institute denounced the militarization of the Canadian economy and called for the withdrawal of the Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

The demonstration continued to the U.S. Embassy where speakers from the U.S. organization Burlington Anti-war Coalition in Vermont condemned the war against Iraq. They further said that Americans want to bring the troops home and that the Bush administration does not speak for the American people.

The Iraq Peace Team said that in the last year, the living conditions of the Iraqi people have gravely deteriorated and called for an end of the occupation immediately. The Global Peace Coalition said that the Canadian people are in solidarity with all people of the world fighting for peace. "Together we can change the world," the speaker said.

A speaker from the Haitian community said that there is one humanity and that all the peoples are in solidarity in their struggles. He condemned the coup in Haiti and the role played by the U.S. with the active participation of the Canadian government. He called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Haiti.

Toronto

Under the initiative of the Mississauga Coalition for Peace and Justice (MCPJ), people held a lively rally and march. They pointed out that the attack on civil liberties in Canada is a result of the U.S. war on freedom and that real democracy rests in the united struggles of the world's peoples under the banner "Another World is Possible." Their march went through a block of apartment buildings where people came out on their balconies to express their support. The event ended with a call to join the Toronto rally that afternoon.

More than 5,000 people participated in the Toronto rally and march, declaring "Humanity Still Says No to U.S. Imperialism and War!" "Toronto Still Says No to War!" and "From Iraq to Palestine, End the Occupation Now!"

A massive banner demanded a stop to the Israeli apartheid wall.

Other banners and placards opposed U.S. aggression against Cuba and Haiti and the detention of the five Cuban political prisoners in U.S. jails.

Slogans and placards also expressed the concerns of participants on the direction that the Martin government is taking Canada, particularly its planned participation in U.S. imperialism's missile defence program.

The days events began with a convergence of youth and students at Dundas Square which marched to Nathan Philips Square to join the main rally. The colourful flags of the Ontario College of Art and Design stood out.

It was also marked by the participation of the steelworkers from USWA Local 1005 from Hamilton who greeted people entering Nathan Phillips square with the leaflet for their "Hamilton Fights Back May 1st Rally". Contingents of postal workers, members of CUPW, many of them from Hamilton, also participated. The flags of other unions -- CUPE, CEP, CAW and the OSSTF -- could be seen throughout the crowd.

Speakers, in addition to opposing U.S. occupation of Iraq, opposed the Canadian state's targeting and deportation of the 20 Pakistani youth picked up under "Operation Thread."

Two young U.S. soldiers who had come to Canada rather than participate in the U.S. occupation of Iraq also spoke. The rally was followed by a spirited march through downtown Toronto, past the U.S. Consulate and back to Nathan Philips Square.

Windsor

Workers, women and youth participated in a spirited demonstration in Windsor opposite the entrance to the tunnel to the U.S. A large banner reading "Hands Off Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela, Palestine, Iraq" captured the spirit of the demonstration which expressed opposition to the U.S. campaign of aggression and destabilization against the world's people and Canada's support for it, as well as support for the resistance of the peoples around the world.

Speakers denounced Canada's support for the aims of the U.S. imperialists, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, the coup in Haiti, or on missile defence. They pointed to the hypocrisy of the Canadian government which insists that other countries must "build democracy" in order to considered "civilized." Meanwhile in Canada, not only do the people have no decision-making power, but in Parliament not even a vote but "take note debates" are held on important issues such as Canada's foreign policy and the missile defence program.

Speakers at the rally included Joe Comartin, MP for Windsor St. Clair, Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West. A representative from Women in Black spoke about the slogans they have developed for the placards they carry on their weekly silent protests to reflect their opposition to war and militarization, as well as their demands such as for Canada to have an independent foreign policy. Richard Harding, a member of The Socialist Project, spoke in opposition to Canada's increasing military integration with the U.S. which is proceeding apace under the current government.

Enver Villamizar, the Marxist-Leninist Party youth candidate in Windsor West, spoke about the work of the Marxist-Leninist Party Club to organize the youth to participate in the Day of Action. In spite of the disinformation and hypocrisy of the Martin Liberals to justify Canada's support for "regime change," the anti-war movement has kept its bearings and opposed "regime change" on principle, not on a case by case basis.

The common thread in all the speeches was that Canada must play a role internationally in the interests of the world's people and in support of their right to decide their own futures. This includes opposing U.S. threats and blackmail against Canadian sovereignty. The demonstration was closed by Mansel Robinson, Writer in Residence at the UW, who read a number of poems.

Sudbury

Some 100 Sudbury residents, mostly youth, participated in a lively and colourful rally, march and forum. Workers and family members from Mine Mill/CAW Local 598, CUPE, OPSEU, OSSTF and the Laurentian University Faculty Union participated. Youth brought a number of brightly-coloured papier mache puppets and a six-foot diameter globe labelled with the words "One World." Placards carried the slogans: "Quit Sweeping Palestine Under the Table, You Can't Bury the Truth!" "Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!" "Why is Canada Supporting the U.S. Coup in Haiti?" and "No Star Wars for Canada!"

The rally began with a performance by the Radical Cheerleaders. Speakers representing several collectives addressed the rally, including Claude Berthiaume, city councillor and member of Development & Peace; Chris Bowes of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty; John Closs, vice-president of the Labour Council; Gary Kinsman, of Autonomy & Solidarity; Barb Riley, a native elder; Richard Paquette, an anti-war activist and NDP candidate in Nickel Belt; and David Starbuck, Marxist- Leninist Party candidate in Sudbury. Youth and Palestinian representatives also spoke.

A banner reading "Not In Our Name and Not With Our Money!" was held up at Sudbury MP Diane Marleau's office. Starbuck especially denounced the attempts by the Canadian government to legitimize the U.S. coup by not only sending troops to Haiti, but in trying to justify the overthrow of a democratically elected president. He said that as Sudbury's MP, Marleau has never taken a consistent stand in opposition to U.S. hegemony. He said that Canada needs an anti-war government and that Sudbury needs an anti-war MP.

The march then went to the Recruiting Office to denounce its role in encouraging youth, who have a difficult time finding employment locally, to become cannon fodder. On the way, participants dropped another banner over a trailer emblazoned with the logo of Caterpillar Corporation which manufactures the special bulldozers used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian homes.

Alberta

In Calgary, some 800 people participated in a march and rally. Bold banners read: No to U.S. Imperialism, Self Determination for Iraq, End the Occupation, Yes to Peace and No to War. Actions were also held in Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

Vancouver

Approximately 15,000 people in Vancouver marched under clear skies to oppose the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, and to call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S., Canadian, Israeli and other foreign troops in these areas. Speakers included a woman lawyer from Toronto who denounced the anti-terrorist legislation used to criminalize refugees, immigrants and political activists; a representative of the FLN in El Salvador who called for the U.S. to keep its hands off Cuba, Venezuela and all of Latin America; a representative of the B.C. Federation of Labour who condemned the neo-liberal agenda in B.C. and declared the workers of B.C. as a major factor against war; the federal leader of the NDP who denounced the missile defence project; and MIT professor Noam Chomsky who catalogued the history of U.S. aggression and war over the past 40 years.

Victoria

In Victoria, various community and student groups organized a spirited rally and demonstration. Representatives of the Spanish community expressed their solidarity with the people of Iraq who have suffered war and chaos at the hands of the U.S. aided by the treacherous Spanish government. They asked the people to pay tribute with a moment of silence for all those around the world who have died and suffered at the hands of the U.S.-led invaders and terrorists. The action also reflected the outrage of Canadians at the Liberal government for Canada's role in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Haiti.



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