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Peace Groups Primed For Big Anti-War Push

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 760 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... PEACE GROUPS PRIMED FOR BIG ANTI-WAR PUSH By Jason
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2003
      NHNE News List
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      By Jason Hopps
      Reuters / Planet Ark
      UK: January 16, 2003


      LONDON - In a series of rallies organisers hope will dwarf the widespread
      anti-nuclear marches of the 1980s, peace activists are planning to fill
      cities across Europe and the United States under a "Don't attack Iraq"

      Smaller protests against a second Gulf war - looming larger in recent weeks
      as U.S. and British military might builds in the region - are scheduled for
      cities in Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Australia and Canada.

      D-Day for the peace movement in Europe will be February 15, when
      simultaneous protests in several capitals are expected to draw hundreds of
      thousands of marchers.

      "February 15th is an international day of action...I think we could see
      record numbers at the biggest anti-war demonstration London has ever seen,"
      said Andrew Burgin, spokesman for Britain's Stop the War Coalition.

      "The message is a simple one: no war against Iraq for any reason, whether
      the United Nations supports an attack or not," he told Reuters.


      On that day, big protests are also planned for Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin,
      Madrid and the Swiss capital Berne.

      Public opinion in Europe is at best divided over an attack on Iraq and in
      most countries - Britain and France included - is against by a wide margin
      if an invasion is not supported by the United Nations.

      Groups in the Netherlands have collected around 10,000 signatures for a
      petition against a war and have delivered it to the prime minister's office
      in The Hague.

      In France, some 40 groups, including unions, anti-racist organisations and
      the Communist and Green political parties, are planning a nationwide peace
      protest on January 18 timed to coincide with the anniversary of the start of
      the 1991 Gulf War.

      In the United States, organisers expect tens of thousands of people at a
      January 18 protest in Washington, the third large-scale demonstration in the
      U.S. capital since October.

      Anti-war organisers and environmental group Greenpeace are hoping for large
      turnouts in Tokyo for a January 18 march and in Sydney for a February 16

      By contrast, response to a possible attack on Iraq in the conservative Gulf
      Arab region has been muted.

      There have been virtually no anti-war rallies recently - except for some
      peaceful protests in Bahrain and Yemen - in an area where governments and
      police keep a tight lid on public demonstrations.


      With the net tightening around Saddam Hussein, many anti-war groups believe
      bloodshed in Iraq may be imminent, but say the peace movement is not
      powerless to rein in a protracted conflict.

      Washington has more than doubled its troops in the Gulf region to 150,000
      and the top two U.N. inspectors will travel to Baghdad next weekend to
      confront Iraqi officials over weapons of mass destruction.

      "An attack on Iraq has been inevitable for a long period," said Burgin. "The
      question for (British) Prime Minister Tony Blair's government and other
      European governments is 'will they survive the growing opposition to the
      war?'" he said.

      Political analysts say a well-organised peace movement could provide serious
      problems for governments - especially Blair's, America's staunchest ally
      since the September 11 attacks - where public opinion is stacked against an
      attack not sanctioned by the United Nations.

      "We already know it's politically dangerous for the Blair government to be
      such a strong supporter of the United States and there is clearly some
      division at cabinet level," said John Curtice, professor of politics at
      Strathclyde University.

      "The combination of a war that might not be backed by the U.N. with domestic
      public opinion that is opposed means the British government will be under a
      very difficult situation if a million people start marching in the streets,"
      he said.


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