War Opponents Protest Around the Globe
Sun Mar 19, 4:09 PM
CHALMETTE, La. - The third anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq drew tens of thousands of protesters around the globe, from hurricane-ravaged Louisiana to Australia, with chants of "Stop the War" and calls for the withdrawal of troops.
About 200 war veterans, hurricane survivors and demonstrators gathered Sunday at the Chalmette National Cemetery to protest how the military conflict overseas had hurt the country's ability to help the Gulf Coast recover from last year's hurricanes.
"We attacked a country who never did anything to us," said Philadelphia resident Al Zappala, whose 30-year-old son was killed in Iraq in April 2004.
He said his son joined the National Guard to help his community. "He was sent to Iraq based on lies," Zappala said.
Many of the weekend demonstrations across Australia, Asia and Europe drew smaller-than-anticipated crowds. Only about 200 joined a march Sunday down New York's Fifth Avenue, with signs including: "We the People Need to do More to End the War."
In London, police said 15,000 people joined a march Saturday from Parliament and Big Ben to a rally in Trafalgar Square; last year's anniversary drew attracted 45,000 demonstrators to the city.
Anti-war rallies in Japan stretched into a second day Sunday, with about 800 protesters chanting "No war! Stop the war!" and banging drums as they marched peacefully through downtown Tokyo toward the U.S. Embassy. A day earlier, about 2,000 rallied in the city.
"The Iraq war was President Bush's big mistake and the whole world is against him," said organizer Ayako Nishimura. "Iraq must decide its own affairs."
Protesters also gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia, and at least 1,000 people turned out in Seoul, South Korea, which has the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq after the U.S. and Britain.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld answered critics of the war in a guest column in Sunday's editions of The Washington Post.
Turning away from Iraq would be "the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis," Rumsfeld he wrote.
"It would be as great a disgrace as if we had asked the liberated nations of Eastern Europe to return to Soviet domination because it was too hard or too tough or we didn't have the patience to work with them as they built free countries," he said.
Joining the marchers in Chalmette was former Florida National Guard Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, a conscientious objector from Miami Beach, Fla., who was court-martialed and jailed for desertion.
"I joined the military because it seemed to offer stability and camaraderie," he said. "No soldier signs up for a war for oil."
His fellow demonstrators had set out Tuesday on a 140-mile march from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans to draw attention both to the war and to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
David Cline, president of Veterans For Peace, said the nation can't have both "guns and butter," a reference to President Lyndon Johnson's statement that the country could fight the war in Vietnam and enjoy the good life at home.
"The reality is you get either A or B, you don't get A and B," he said.
Activist Cindy Sheehan, who energized the anti-war movement last summer with her monthlong protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch, joined the Gulf Coast marchers in Mississippi on Friday, but left early Sunday for events in Washington.
"Katrina only happened because of the incompetence and callousness of the (Bush) administration, just as we've seen in Iraq," Sheehan said Sunday.
More than 7,000 people marched through Chicago on Saturday in one of the largest U.S. protests, saying the war diverts money from domestic needs and demanding the U.S. pull out of Iraq. One sign read "Bush is a category 5 disaster."
"I'm against this war, I'm against the torture," said protester Martha Conrad, 54. "We're doing this for the people of Iraq."
Protesters also gathered in Boston, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, and more than 1,000 packed into New York's Times Square on Saturday chanting: "Stop the U.S. war machine, from Iraq to Korea to the Philippines."
Associated Press writers Paul Burkhardt in New York and Sue Leeman in London contributed to this report.
Sad with NYC today! the weather is freezingly cold...
- Re: War Opponents Protest Around the Globe(AP)posted on 03/20/2006
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