Archive article from The Socialist Issue 340
20 March protests
Millions Worldwide Say 'End The Occupation'
MILLIONS OF protesters worldwide took to the streets on 20 March, the first anniversary of the Iraq War. Members of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI - the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) took part in protests in many countries. Our anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist policies got a great response.
Apart from the protests listed, there were also demonstrations in Germany, Greece, Egypt, the Philippines and throughout Asia, and across the US (including a protest of 800 in Crawford, George Bush's hometown).
For fuller details of these reports and others from Japan, Australia, CIS, New Zealand, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg etc. see the CWI website www.socialistworld.net
"Dump the elephant, dump the ass!
Build a party of the working class"
That was our slogan for a new workers' party on the massive anti-occupation demo in New York. The Elephant and the Ass are the symbols of the Republicans and the Democrats.
Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, NY
The crowd was close to 100,000. Socialist Alternative member, Hank Gonzalez said: "The crowd was divided between those who called for a vote for [Democrat Presidential candidate] Kerry and those who acknowledged the Democrats' crucial role in starting the war and maintaining the occupation."
Socialist Alternative, the US section of the Committee for a Workers' International, sold over 200 copies of our newspaper, Justice.
We had one of the liveliest contingents with banners and placards proclaiming: "A Socialist World is Possible," "Bring the Troops Home," "Free, Quality Healthcare Now," and other slogans. Many people marched with us or joined in our chants against the occupation and Bush.
Millions show fury at Berlusconi
UP TO two million Italian workers and youth have once again declared a firm 'No to the war!' and demanded the withdrawal of Italian troops now... from all countries.
Philipp Fleischmann, Rome
Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi ignored the majority of Italy's population when he sent Italian troops into Iraq. Recently, the parliament had a vote on continuing military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, and even the so-called centre-left did not oppose it clearly!
The three parties, the Tricycle, of the old Olive Tree coalition did not vote against it. These parties, when in government in the 1990s, sent the army into Kosovo. That's why Berlusconi got a short breathing space on the issue despite the crisis in the occupation forces in Iraq, after Spain's withdrawal.
But, strengthened by the Spanish example, a million came to Rome to oppose the war and to show their anger at the role of the Italian centre-left parties in the vote in parliament.
When Piero Fassino and his 'Democrats of the Left' (Ds) - one of the 'Tricycle' parties - wanted to join the demonstration, they were thrown out by the militant youth of the 'Disobbedienti'.
Marching against war and terror
A MILLION people marched in 50 cities across Spain against the occupation of Iraq, for justice for Palestine and against terrorism, which took 200 lives nine days earlier.
Chris Ridge, Barcelona
Barcelona's colourful march had trade union flags, party banners and home-made banners. One poster showed Bush, Blair, Aznar and Berlusconi standing together, with their national flags and the oil giants' logos in the background.
Aznar was thrown out in recent general elections as millions of angry workers and young people voted out the Popular Party (PP) government. But many people were galvanised to vote last minute by the PP's disgusting attempt to stay in power by blaming ETA for the Madrid bombings while hiding growing evidence to the contrary.
Aznar's successor, Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Zapatero says he intends to bring the troops home and condemns Aznar's war, but he's leaving the door open by suggesting they may stay under the auspices of the UN. The message to Zapatero was clear: withdraw Spain's troops from Iraq whether or not control of the occupation is formally handed to the UN.
Many people understand that United Nations control would be a sham with the continued occupation and exploitation of Iraq, not least by Spanish companies, like 'Repsol', target for abuse on the march.
Zapatero will come under pressure from Spanish capitalists (keen to get a finger in the pie) and from Bush and Blair. However, millions of Basques, Catalans and Spaniards are waiting for him to fulfil his election promises and will take to the streets again if he does not. As they see it, 200 people died in Madrid because of Spain's involvement in the war for oil.
This in no way means support for the slaughter in Madrid. One of the most poignant moments on the demonstration was the silence as marchers stood to remember the victims. The protesters were conscious that the dead were workers and students, parents and children, or immigrants, like themselves.
The presence of workers from Latin America, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent, showing their rejection of al-Qa'ida's methods, was another significant feature of the march.
The debate over Spain's involvement in Iraq, the bombings and who was responsible for them, is far from finished.
IN GOTHENBURG, Sweden, the Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS - CWI Sweden) contingent on Saturday's anti-war march of about 2,000 people was singled out for attack by riot police on horseback!
Disgracefully, stewards from 'left' organisations - the Maoist KPML(r) and the Socialist Party (USFI) - had called them, demanding that the party banners, with the slogan "No war for oil!" should be taken down. It was this same police force which had attacked the 2001 anti-summit protest with live ammunition!
The action has been condemned in an open letter to these organisations and in this week's Offensiv, with the headline "Ten stewards against; 2,000 people in favour". Nobody on the demonstration complained about the RS slogans and many had taken RS material enthusiastically.
SIX THOUSAND trade unionists, left parties and social movements demonstrated across Lisbon against the occupation of Iraq. Protesters demanded the return of Portuguese troops and the resignation of Portugal's right-wing prime minister, Durao Barroso.
Barroso acted as the "bartender" at the Azores's "war summit" last year and claimed "to [have] seen evidence of WMD" given by Bush and Blair. This, on top of the "social terror" of the government's neo-liberal policies, makes people angrier by the day.
Spain's working class and youth kicked out the Aznar government warmongers - that had a big effect in Portugal. We pledge to do the same here.