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The World Says No to War! Millions March in New York, Rome, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney and France

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Tens of millions of people took to the streets over the weekend in some 600 cities around the world. They marched and rallied and demonstrated to protest the Bush administration’s plans to attack Iraq. In New York City, organizers say half a million rallied. In San Francisco, a quarter of a million marched. London, Madrid, and Barcelona each saw over a million people march. Organizers say over 3 million marched in Rome. The London Guardian is reporting Italian state television did not broadcast the protest live because it would put “undue pressure on politicians.”

Hundreds of other protests were held spread across every continent in the world. Sites included Australia, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Syria, Tokyo, Bangladesh, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Brazil, East Timor, India and even the South Pole.

We recorded these live reports from around the world.

Tape:

  • The World Says No To War! reports from around the globe, Feb. 15-16, 2003: London, Melbourne, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and Arundhati Roy in India

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Tens of millions of people took to the streets over the weekend in some 600 cities around the world. They marched and rallied to protest the Bush administration’s plans to attack Iraq. In New York City, organizers say somewheres between half a million and a million people rallied. In San Francisco, a quarter of a million people marched. London, Madrid and Barcelona each saw over a million people in the streets. Organizers say over 3 million marched in Rome. The London Guardian is reporting Italian state television did not broadcast the protest live because it would put, quote, “undue pressure on politicians.”

Hundreds of other protests were held spread across every continent in the world. Sites included Australia, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Syria, Tokyo, Bangladesh, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Brazil, East Timor, India and even the South Pole.

We recorded these live reports from around the world:

ANDREW BERGEN: Hi. My name’s Andrew Bergen. I’m standing in Hyde Park. It’s just getting dark. We’ve had most wonderful day here today. We’ve had a demonstration where some estimates are now in the region of 2 million people. We had a fantastic range of speakers, major political figures. But most importantly of all, we had Jesse Jackson here, who was wonderful. He spoke on the stage with Tim Robbins, a very important actor from the States. And he also did a little thing with Ms. Dynamite, who’s a very well-known singer here. It’s been a wonderful day, and really we think we’ve made a huge and impressive point against the war drive.

Tony Blair has been really thrown by the Blix report at the United Nations yesterday. They were hoping that Blix would be far harder on the Iraqi regime, but Blix is saying that really they found nothing of importance, and in a sense there’s nothing to justify war. Tony Blair is very isolated in Britain. He now only has 9% support for a war without a second U.N. resolution. And it looks as if they won’t get a second U.N. resolution. So he’s been up to Scotland today talking about the morality of war. But we’re also talking about the morality of war. We’re saying that this war in Iraq would be immoral and that we are against it. And I think today we’ve seen the people of Britain stand up and be counted. This has been tremendous. This has been the biggest demonstration in British political history.

DAMIEN LAWSON: G’day. My name is Damien Lawson. I’m the coordinator of the Victorian Peace Network in Melbourne, Australia. We’re a growing coalition of trade unions, students, churches, environment groups, as well as local peace groups, right across southeastern Australia. And we’ve just had the biggest demonstration in Melbourne we’ve ever had in Melbourne, possibly the biggest ever in Australia, over 200,000 people filling the streets of Melbourne, protesting against George Bush’s plan for war.

And, of course, the strong element that was coming right through the protest was wanting to bring Australian troops home from the Middle East, to be really opposed to John Howard’s support for George Bush. John Howard is the leader of Australia. And it was really clear and strong coming through the demonstration that people saw this as being a war for oil, and not about weapons of mass destruction, that people wanted to support the people of Iraq, not Saddam Hussein. But the way to do that is not through being more devastating on Iraq than has already been caused over the last 10 years.

GABRIELE SALARI: My name is Gabriele Salari from Greenpeace Italy. And the peace rally is not yet ended. One-point-eight million people came out. And it was a very powerful, long march lasting since 11:00 in the morning ’til now, and the process is still going on, with a lot of music of people and a lot of people witnessing witnesses speaking in the main square, where the all people gathered in Rome.

JOHANNES: So, hello to everybody. Here’s Johannes [inaudible] calling from Berlin in Germany. Yesterday we had a huge protest here in Berlin. Maybe you’ve heard about it. The police was speaking about 300,000 participants, but then they corrected and came up to a half a million. So, being in a city of a bit less than 4 million inhabitants, this is quite a huge demonstration. And we didn’t have such an experience since the early ‘80s during the protests on the Pershing cruise missile.

KIT KEIGWIN: Hi. This is Kit Keigwin. I’m from Paris, France. I was at the manif. ”Manif” is French for “protest.” It started down in the south of Paris, and it went up to Place de Bastille. And it was really nice. So, it was a very sunny day. There were about a couple of hundred thousand people.

EDGAR BURNS: Hi. My name is Edgar Burns. I’m calling — I’m reporting from Madrid, Spain, where the crowd here is just unbelievable. The crowd reaches — they’re saying it’s about two miles long. A half-million people, perhaps three-quarters of a million people are here. You’ll see all walks of life here, people from the very young to the very old. Spain has had a situation here where 92% of the population is actually against the war, and yet Aznar, President Aznar, is backing Bush 100%. Yesterday, the minister of foreign affairs in the Security Council, Ana Palacio, the minister of foreign affairs here from Spain, was very eager to declare war. The people here are completely taken aback by her warmongering, and they are out in the streets in numbers. Three-quarters of a million people are here, and it is unbelievable. Pedro Almodóvar will be speaking soon here. He’s going to open up the rally. Heard from the officials here that people are basically two miles away. They cannot even get any closer to the stage because it is so packed. The streets of Spain are — of Madrid are completely packed.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Hi. This is Arundhati Roy, and I’m calling from Kerala in India, where it’s close to midnight. And I’m calling to speak to the people on the streets of New York and on the streets of almost every major city in the world. And I just want to make a small statement. The U.S. government’s war to promote terrorism, because that’s what it is — it promotes terrorism — has launched a two-pronged assault on the world. One is a military assault in the Middle East that seeks to redraw the map of that region and establish U.S. hegemony over oil. And the other is an assault on the intelligence of the human race. It’s not the lies we are being told, but the quality of those lies, that is truly insulting. And what we in the peace movement must do is to try and turn every bomb that is dropped on Iraq, that has been dropped on Iraq, into an exposé of the criminals that are waging this war, because they are baby killers, water poisoners, long-distance bombers, merchants of death. And each of you who is marching for peace today is doing a wonderful, wonderful thing. Let no one persuade you otherwise. I wish I were there. Goodbye and lots of love. Once again, this is Arundhati calling from India.

AMY GOODMAN: The voice of the Indian writer Arundhati Roy in a surprise call to the protest in New York, among many other voices from around the world. There were also hundreds of protests in hundreds of smaller American cities and towns, from Coupeville, Washington, to Augusta, Maine. Tomorrow we’ll hear a report from Colorado Springs, where thousands rallied peacefully until police attacked the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets. We’ll also hear a report from San Francisco, where a quarter of a million people protested on Sunday.

But right now, NATO has reached an agreement to carry out a U.S.-led plan to defend Turkey in the event of a war with Iraq despite French opposition. The controversy began when the U.S. requested NATO provide Turkey with troops, surveillance planes, Patriot missile batteries and chemical biological defenses. France, Germany and Belgium vetoed the move. They said it would send the wrong signal at a time when they were hoping diplomacy and U.N. weapons inspections, not war, were the best way to disarm Iraq. Germany and Belgium eventually agreed to drop their objections. When France refused, the decision was moved to the Defense Planning Committee, of which France is not a member and therefore could not issue a veto.

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