[Media-watch] FW: Report on March from US e-zine Portside

David Miller davidmiller at strath.ac.uk
Mon Oct 18 16:13:25 BST 2004

From: "Barry White" <press at cpbf.demon.co.uk>
Reply-To: <freepress at cpbf.org.uk>
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 12:09:26 +0100
Subject: Thousands in London Antiwar Protest
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2004 21:40:21 -0400 (EDT)

Tens of Thousands Throng London to Protest Iraq War

October 17, 2004, Agence France Presse


LONDON - Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the
streets of central London to protest against the Iraq war as
Prime Minister Tony Blair struggled to shake-off fierce
criticism of the invasion back home.

Organisers said that between 65,000 and 75,000 protesters had
taken to the streets for the peaceful march, which began at
Russell Square, close to the British museum. Police put the
figure at between 15,000 and 20,000.

Protesters from around the world clutched banners and blew
whistles as they marched towards Trafalgar Square, where a
mass rally was taking place.

"Troops out," screamed one of many placards being waved by

"Blair must go," said another.

Sunday's march was the latest in a series of demonstrations
organised by the Stop The War Coalition before and after the
US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 that was backed by

The march was arranged Sunday to coincide with the end to the
three-day European Social Forum held in London. It comes also
after a stormy week for Blair, who was accused in parliament
last Wednesday of misrepresenting intelligence on Iraq to
make the case for war.

"I am against the war and capitalism," one demonstrator,
going by the name of Charkoo, told AFP. "I want to show we
are willing to fight against the war," added the 31-year-
student from South Korea.

The brother of Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage recently
executed by his captors in Iraq, had urged people to turn out
in force for Sunday's march.

"For Ken's sake and for the sake of everyone in Iraq I ask
you to make your feelings known to our government, to protest
and to join the demonstration," Paul Bigley was quoted as
saying by the Press Association, Britain's domestic news

Anti-war protesters pull a sculptures through the streets of
London, Sunday Oct, 17, 2004, as thousands of anti-war and
anti-globalization activists marched through central London,
to protest the U.S.-led coalition's presence in Iraq. The
march to Trafalgar Square marked the culmination of the third
European Social Forum - three days of speeches, workshops and
debates largely dominated by Iraq and the U.S. presidential
election. (AP Photo/John D McHugh)

Activists and campaigners were to be entertained later with a
free concert in Trafalgar Square.

Sunday's demonstration came after 25,000 protesters marched
through London in March on the first anniversary of the Iraq

On that occasion, two demonstrators scaled Big Ben, the
landmark clocktower of the Houses of Parliament, at dawn and
unfurled a banner that read: "Time for the truth."

Last November, up to 200,000 people protested in Trafalgar
Square when US President George W. Bush was in London for a
state visit. Ahead of the Iraq war in February 2003, police
estimated that one million people descended on the capital to
protest the looming invasion, while organisers said the
figure was nearer two million.

Sunday's protest came just days after Blair apologized to
parliament for flawed intelligence on Iraq. But Blair,
gearing up for a general election expected next year, angrily
denied charges he "misrepresented" it to make the case for
joining the US-led invasion last year.

The march took place also amid speculation that Britain was
to agree to a US request to redeploy its troops in Iraq. A
defence ministry spokesman said Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon
would brief parliament Monday following reports.

"He plans to make a statement to the House (of Commons)
tomorrow. What he is going to be saying is 'we have been
approached by the Americans to deploy British troops in their
area of operations'.

"He will also be stressing that no decision has been made and
that we continue to consider their request and will do so on
its individual merits. He won't be naming units, he won't be
giving you a start date or anything like that," the spokesman

Reports in Britain have said British troops based in the
relatively calm south of Iraq could be redeployed under US
command near strife-torn Baghdad.

But the ministry of defence spokesman ruled this out.

"If the troops do go they won't be going to Baghdad or
Fallujah," the spokesman told AFP.

Sunday's anti-war rally was meanwhile organised to coincide
with the final day of the third annual European Social Forum
here, which has seen thousands of activists from around the
world defend the rights of workers and minorities, promote
efforts to protect the environment and protest against the
war in Iraq.

© Copyright 2004 AFP


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