[R-G] London: 'More than 50,000' protest Iraq invasion
bstoller at utopia2000.org
Sat Sep 28 09:55:11 MDT 2002
AP (with additional material by BBC). 28 September 2002. More than
50,000 march through London to protest Iraq invasion.
LONDON -- More than 50,000 protesters marched through central London
Saturday to urge Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W.
Bush not to go to war with Iraq.
March leaders used bullhorns to shout through the gates of Blair's 10
Downing St. residence as they headed from Embankment on the River Thames
toward Hyde Park.
"Don't be bullied by Bush," read one placard.
"No war for oil. Stop the war machine," said another.
Streams of people poured out of Underground stations near the march's
starting point and demonstrators at the back of the march were still
setting off from Embankment after those at the front had reached Hyde
Park, more than a mile (1.6 kms) away.
Scotland Yard said it was still working on a crowd estimate but that
there were more than 50,000 demonstrators.
Andrew Burgin, of the Stop the War Coalition, which helped organize the
march, said there were 250,000 people and added that the crowd was still growing.
"We are sleepwalking to disaster," Tam Dalyell, who holds the title
father of the House of Commons, told the demonstrators in Hyde Park.
He said the confrontation with Iraq was the most dangerous standoff
since the Cuban missile crisis.
Legislators from Blair's own Labor Party are among the leaders of the
Stop the War Coalition, which organized the march with the Muslim
Association of Britain to rally those who believe any war would kill
innocents and cause global political and economic instability.
Tony Benn, a former Labor Party legislator and veteran left-winger,
urged protesters to do everything they could to stop "a war that would
involve criminal loss of life of innocent people. ... We must see it is
not allowed to happen."
Benn told the crowds: "Nothing can take the British people into a war
that they do not accept and do not want." He said it would be "wholly
immoral" for the US and Britain to attack Iraq.
"Although when the bloodshed begins if it does criminal responsibility
for what has happened will rest with those who have taken that decision
there is a share of responsibility with us as well."
Anas Al Tikriti, of the Muslim Association of Britain, said: "Maybe for
the very first time that all sectors of society... have come together
because they feel extremely concerned about the way our government has
been conducting itself in regards with the issues of Palestine and
Iraq," he said.
And he said that the march, which comes on the eve of the start of the
Labour Party Conference, sent a clear message to Mr Blair and his
"Our government is acting in an unethical manner. This has to change,"
Film director Ken Loach was among the demonstrators on Saturday. He
said: "We can't get involved in this war we can't consider murdering
another 100,000 Iraqis simply to pursue America's interest in oil and
their dominance in the region."
Among those scheduled to speak at the rally were London Mayor Ken
Livingstone and former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter.
There were many families in the crowd, which included people pushing
small children in strollers and protesters of all ages and social backgrounds.
"Iraq is not our enemy, stop Bush," said a homemade banner carried by
Irial Eno, 12, who attended the rally with her sister, mother and grandmother.
"Iraq has already had lots of trouble," she said. "I just don't think
that Bush should bomb them. So many people will die just for one man,"
she said, adding that it was not right to kill innocent Iraqi people to
topple their leader Saddam Hussein.
"There must be some other way," said her mother, Anthea Eno. "People are
going to suffer, as always."
"People are out on the streets to show that not all Britons feel the
same as Tony Blair," said protester Zoolfikar Beig. "We don't want any enemies."
The march was also meant as a protest of Israel's policies in the West
Bank and Gaza, and many protesters expressed sympathy for the
"Stop Israeli war crimes," said one sign.
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