Big anti Iraq war demonstrations in Spain and elsewhere

Madrid Iraq protestReuters reports:

MADRID – Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched in Spanish cities on Saturday in what organizers said were Europe’s biggest protests to mark four years of conflict in Iraq.

The largest demonstration was in Madrid where organizers estimated around 400,000 protestors …

It was one of around 100 anti-war demonstrations across Spain involving cities including Barcelona, Valencia and Seville.

Left-wing political leaders and Spanish celebrities like film director Pedro Almodovar marched in Madrid behind a banner reading “End the occupation in Iraq, shut down Guantanamo.”

Protestors walked to a memorial for the 191 people killed in March 11, 2004 train bombings by Islamist radicals.

The bombers said they targeted Madrid because of then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s move to send Spanish troops to Iraq in support of President Bush.

Aznar was voted out of power days after the attacks, along with his conservative Popular Party.

Spain’s incoming socialist government, led by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.

Zapatero has refused to send additional Spanish troops to Afghanistan, despite demands from NATO members.

Banners at the Madrid march read “Zapatero you’re not alone,” “Troops out of Afghanistan” and “Popular Party, fascists.”

Demonstration in Washington, DC, USA: here.

Report on demonstrations in the USA: here.

Rome demonstration: here.

Photos of Brussels, Belgium, demo: here.

More peace demonstrations all over the world to stop the Iraq war will be today, including in Brussels, Belgium.

Rupert Murdoch empire spin on the Iraq war: here.

George W. Bush’s mother Barbara does not care about US soldiers dying in Iraq.

Play Stuff Happens on Iraq: here.

12 thoughts on “Big anti Iraq war demonstrations in Spain and elsewhere

  1. Saturday, March 17, 2007 9:59 PM PDT

    Hundreds rally for peace

    By Theresa Hogue

    Corvallis Gazette-Times

    Hundreds of war protesters marched along the waterfront Saturday morning in downtown Corvallis. The march was sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Alternatives to War, and other social justice and faith-based organizations.

    Green was the color of choice Saturday morning as local residents celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, but along the Corvallis riverfront, a rainbow of colors sparkled, including the flag hoisted over Sheila O’Keefe’s shoulder, with the Italian word for peace, “Pace,” written across it.

    Monday marks the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, and several events this weekend and Monday brought out a number of peace activists to mark the date. Saturday morning, more than 200 people marched through downtown Corvallis, and finished with a rally at the courthouse.

    O’Keefe has been marching against the Iraq war since before the invasion began, and has only missed one major protest, when a friend got married.

    At least three of four times a week, O’Keefe stands in front of the courthouse during the daily peace vigil. During that time, she’s gotten to know a lot of other protesters.

    “We’ve all gotten to be a close-knit community,” she said. She said activism has allowed her to meet people outside her own circle of friends.

    While she hasn’t seen an increase in participation during peace events, she has noticed that public opinion seems to be shifting in favor of ending the war and bringing troops home. That is most clear in the reaction of drivers passing by the courthouse.

    “In the beginning, the reaction was more negative than positive,” she said, including a lot of middle fingers and derogatory shouts. Now there are more thumbs up and peace signs.

    Long-time activist Steve Hoop isn’t surprised at the increase in positive responses.

    “The people who were in support of this whole escapade are getting a little more embarrassed,” he said.

    Valori George just moved to Corvallis a few months ago from Monterrey, Calif., where she had been active in the peace movement. She knew she wanted to continue her activism here, and said it wasn’t hard to find a group to join.

    “We saw the people in front of the courthouse,” she said, and knew where to go. She said Corvallis activism suits her style.

    “This is a very active community,” she said, “impressively so.”

    George’s son, Aaron Shaffer, 11, was visiting his mother from Monterrey, and has participated in plenty of similar events.

    “He’s a veteran sign maker,” George said. She said it was important for parents to model activism to their children.

    ‘Being part of a thriving democracy is not a passive thing,” she said. “You have to be active.”


  2. War protests to move to NY after march on Pentagon
    18/03/2007 08h18
    A protester is apprehended during a clash with police
    ©AFP/Getty Images – Brendan Smialowski

    NEW YORK (AFP) – Thousands of protesters were expected to take to the streets here Sunday to demand an immediate end to the war in Iraq as New York takes the relay from other US cities that have held massive anti-war marches.

    United for Peace and Justice, which describes itself as the largest anti-war coalition in the United States, said it expected the protesters to turn up here en masse to mark the fourth anniversary of the US-led Iraq invasion.

    “The national anti-war movement is planning a unified surge of protest actions calling on Congress to end the occupation and for the immediate withdrawal of US troops,” the group said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to the Pentagon’s doorstep Saturday demanding “US out of Iraq Now,” ahead of the fourth anniversary of the US invasion.

    People from across the United States gathered on a cold winter day to descend on the US Defense Department offices and decry the conflict that has killed more than 3,200 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

    Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark called for President George W. Bush’s impeachment, while Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq, demanded a US withdrawal.
    Anti-war demonstrators, including Cindy Sheehan(3rdL), march toward the Pentagon
    ©AFP – Nicolas Kamm

    “I marched in 1967 here,” Maureen Dooley, 59, said outside the Pentagon, site of Vietnam war protests, but results were not immediate: “It took seven years to end the war.”

    War opponents trickled into Washington for the rally organized by the peace group ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) as Vietnam war veterans wearing black leather jackets gathered nearby for a counter-demonstration.

    Some war supporters confronted the peace activists, tearing up and spitting on anti-war signs while chanting: “USA! USA!”

    Washington police do not give crowd estimates, but an AFP correspondent said tens of thousands of people could be seen at the march.

    War opponents have organized a series of protests against the conflict that started March 20, 2003.

    In Los Angeles, several thousand demonstrators took to the streets. Organizers of the rally in Hollywood estimated its size at “tens of thousands,” while the Los Angeles Police Department said the figure was in the 5,000-6,000 range.

    Protesters blew whistles and carried placards bearing slogans critical of Bush, such as “Worst President Ever” and “It’s time for regime change in Washington.”

    A smattering of celebrities were also marching in the crowd, organizers said, including veteran actor and peace activist Martin Sheen and actress Maria Bello, the star of “Thank you for Smoking” and “A History of Violence.”

    Ian Thompson, of ANSWER, said the protest was the biggest in Los Angeles since 2005. “People have had enough and this is their way of showing it,” Thompson told AFP.
    Anti-war demonstrators arrive at the Pentagon
    ©AFP – Nicholas Kamm

    “This government needs to start listening to what the people want. And most people don’t want us to be fighting war in Iraq,” Thompson added.

    In European cities, protest turnout ranged from 400,000 in Madrid to thousands in Istanbul, Turkey and several hundred in Copenhagen, Prague, Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece.

    Alan Pugh, 27, a computer student from Ohio, said he hoped the Washington protest would have the same impact as the mass demonstrations denouncing the Vietnam war decades ago.

    “This is the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam protest that changed the direction and we hope we can do the same thing today,” he said.

    Late Friday, about 100 people were arrested in Washington as they held a vigil on a sidewalk in front of the White House and ignored police orders to disperse in a protest organized by Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.

    The leftist group was also organizing candlelight vigils for Monday in Washington and across the country, spokesman Steve Hoffman said.

    The war has grown increasingly unpopular, with recent polls showing that a majority of Americans now say the invasion was a mistake and want the US government to set a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

    Peace activists want the US Congress, secured by the Democrats in November elections that were marked by voter anger at the war, to push hard for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

    But Democrats have so far failed to pass legislation that would compel Bush to change course in Iraq.


  3. Christian Anti-war protesters arrested
    Posted by: “Compañero” chocoano05
    Sat Mar 17, 2007 11:47 pm (PST)
    Published: March 17, 2007 at 12:58 PM

    Anti-war protesters arrested

    WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) — The late-night start of a rally against the
    U.S. war in Iraq resulted in dozens of protesters being arrested by police
    outside the White House.

    The demonstrators handcuffed about 11:30 p.m. Friday were among about 100
    people who appeared on the sidewalk to pray in a planned act of civil
    disobedience, The Washington Post said Saturday.

    The group was part of a crowd of about 3,000 that had gathered at the
    Washington National Cathedral for a service marking the fourth anniversary
    of the war and timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1967 march
    on the Pentagon against the Vietnam War.

    Protest leaders hoped tens of thousands of people would show up for a march
    Saturday afternoon that was to take demonstrators from the Lincoln Memorial,
    across the Arlington Memorial Bridge, to a Pentagon parking lot. However,
    inclement weather was a possible factor.

    One protestor whose son was killed in Iraq, Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia,
    said she was at the rally, which was sponsored by Christian Peace Witness
    for Iraq, to serve “as a witness to the true cost of war, the betrayal and
    madness that is the war in Iraq.”


  4. Christians Arrested at White House Opposing War
    Posted by: “Compañero” chocoano05
    Sat Mar 17, 2007 11:52 pm (PST)

    Rousing, Emotional Start for War Protest

    By Steve Vogel and Clarence Williams
    The Washington Post
    Saturday 17 March 2007

    Arrests made at White House; storm might trim weekend turnout.

    Dozens of demonstrators, many of them Christian peace activists, were arrested outside the White House late last night and early this morning as part of a protest against the war in Iraq.

    About 11:30 p.m., police began handcuffing the first of about 100 protesters who had assembled on the White House sidewalk to pray in a planned act of civil disobedience.

    The protesters were part of a larger group that had assembled at the Washington National Cathedral for a service on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war. From the service, demonstrators marched through the wind, cold and dampness to the White House.

    The demonstration began a weekend of protest that is to include a march on the Pentagon today. Last night’s event, which was sponsored by more than two dozen religious groups, was not part of today’s antiwar rally at the Pentagon.

    Those who were arrested had been among almost 3,000 people who assembled at the cathedral at 7 p.m. for a rousing, emotional service that lasted more than 90 minutes.

    Participants, whom the cathedral staff numbered at 2,825, heard speakers including Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004.

    “I am here tonight as a witness to the true cost of war,” she said, “the betrayal and madness that is the war in Iraq.”

    “We lay before God the sorrow that lives in all of us because of the war,” she said.

    Last night’s procession was sponsored by Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.

    Meanwhile, organizers of the march on the Pentagon expressed concern that the storm hitting the Northeast might affect turnout.

    Protest leaders said they still expect tens of thousands of people for the march, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. north of the Lincoln Memorial and cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon’s north parking lot for a rally. Organizers are tying the protest to the 40th anniversary of the 1967 march on the Pentagon against the Vietnam War, saying it represents similar public anger.

    Airlines canceled many flights in the Northeast yesterday, and driving conditions were poor. Organizers said many contingents from some of the hardest-hit areas, including New England and New York, are scheduled to travel in bus and car caravans.

    “They are doing everything possible to continue to come,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, the march’s main sponsor.

    Other contingents are coming from such places as New Orleans, Tucson, Houston, Salt Lake City and Florida and California, organizers said.

    Yesterday’s cold rain did not stop a small group of people from gathering on the sodden, muddy ground of the Mall’s Constitution Gardens to preview their countermarch activities.

    Members of the Gathering of Eagles group said they plan to voice support for the war and for the troops in Iraq and make sure that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, near the war protest’s starting place, is not desecrated. Antiwar demonstrators said that they, too, respect the memorial.

    Organizers with Gathering of Eagles said they also will demonstrate against the protest along the march route. Many with Gathering of Eagles are Vietnam veterans or relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq.

    “I’ve got some friends over there,” said Rod Linkous of El Paso, gesturing toward the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He served two tours in Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s.

    “We defended their right to say whatever they want,” Linkous, 59, said of war protesters past and present. “They have the freedom of speech. We gave that freedom by fighting and dying for it.”

    The rain prompted organizers of the war protest to move a news conference scheduled for their assembly grounds at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue to George Washington University Law School.

    Speakers, including the parents of a Marine killed in Iraq, denounced the war and called for the impeachment of President Bush.

    Mike Marceau, a disabled Army veteran who served in Vietnam and is vice president of the D.C. chapter of Veterans for Peace, criticized the administration over recent reports of poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

    “That is unconscionable, and we can’t allow that to happen,” said Marceau, who said he spent eight months at Walter Reed during 1970 and 1971 recuperating from wounds. “It’s time to stop spending money on hurting people and start spending money on healing people.”

    Carlos Arredondo, who brought to the podium the boots his son Alex wore before he was killed in Iraq in 2004, said the march will honor service members and others who have died in the war. He echoed Marceau’s comments about Walter Reed: “The veterans deserve much better.”

    Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson said Bush and Vice President Cheney should be removed from office for what he described as crimes against the Constitution.

    Eugene Puryear, a student at Howard University who has coordinated the participation of college students from across the country, predicted a large showing of youths. We’re seeing new people, new energy, new blood,” Puryear said. “People who never have been to a demonstration before are now organizing buses.”


  5. ‘War moms’
    Mothers raise anti-war voices
    Four years after the Iraq invasion, parents of service members and vets no longer are content to just cheer
    By Matthew D. LaPlante
    The Salt Lake Tribune
    Article Last Updated: 03/18/2007 12:16:27 PM MDT

    No one wanted a “good war” more than Carla Hitz. Her son, an Army helicopter pilot, was among the first soldiers in Iraq in 2003. And while he was gone, Hitz wanted to make sure he would be supported back home.
    “My first instinct was maternal,” said Hitz, founder of the Sandy-based nonprofit We Love Our Soldiers. “I wanted my son and every other soldier to know our country was behind them, caring for their well-being and morale.”
    That was four years ago. Today, on the brink of the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq – and with her son’s third combat deployment looming – Hitz has concluded that supporting her son now means letting lawmakers know it’s time to end so-called “backdoor draft” practices, give service members and veterans the medical care they deserve and, most of all, end the war.
    ” ‘Support the troops’ now has a much broader context than it did in 2003,” she said. “I never imagined we would still be in this mess four years later.”
    Hitz is among a growing number of military mothers no longer content to stand on the sidelines and cheer. And politicians say voices like hers can be potent.
    If “soccer moms” were the political power holders of the recent past, “war moms” may be their equivalent in the near future.
    “I think it’s an important constituency, a constituency people want to listen to,” said Rep. Jim Matheson.

    “I think it’s going to be a relevant group.”
    Just how relevant? Last fall, after calling for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation, Matheson said he had soured on the defense secretary’s competence after speaking about the matter with military families.
    “There’s no substitute to talking to people directly involved in this situation and, in that case, there were more and more people expressing real concern,” Matheson said.
    Yet just as maternal concern can drive a mother to protest, it also can keep her silent.
    “I was somewhat paranoid that if I spoke out against the war, someone in the military would find out . . . and that my son would be treated punitively, either outright or in other subtle ways,” said Kim Spangrude, whose soldier son served in Iraq.
    But after her son returned home from the war – and especially after he was treated with what she perceived as disrespect as he attempted to access his veterans benefits – all bets were off.
    Now a leader with the group Military Families Speak Out, Spangrude angrily recalls a phone conversation with a Veterans Affairs receptionist in which she said Spangrude’s son might not be eligible for certain benefits because it had been two years since “he got out of that war thingy.”
    “I said, ‘Now, do you mean that ‘war thingy’ where over 3,100 American men and women lost their lives during the past three years?’ and she said, ‘Yeah, one of those war thingies – Vietnam War, Iraq War, whatever,’ ” Spangrude said.
    VA spokeswoman Susan Huff said officials would look into the incident. “The leadership here is committed to providing veterans with the respect that they’ve earned,” she said, noting that the VA was implementing a customer-service training program that would be mandatory for all of its employees.
    Spangrude said many military mothers begin to speak out after becoming frustrated with perceived callousness on the part of military and civilian leaders – especially those that are supposed to be service members’ advocates.
    Indeed, that’s how Hitz found her anti-war voice. After learning from her son that his unit did not have enough water in Iraq, she wrote Sen. Orrin Hatch for help.
    Hatch’s office sent this reply: “The military understands the importance of keeping our soldiers properly hydrated. . . . Each soldier is allocated three liters of bottled water per day. In addition to the bottled water, there is an abundance of purified water available.”
    “That wasn’t true,” Hitz said. “I knew from talking to my son that wasn’t true. But there it was. It was like I was being called stupid, and my son was being called a liar.”
    Hitz said she preferred the manner in which Matheson’s office responded – his staff responded personally and forwarded correspondence about the water issue between the congressman and the Army. But in the end, she got the same answer: “Each soldier is allotted three liters of bottled water a day.”
    Though the “bring them home” voices appear to be getting louder, it’s not only war moms with an anti-war bent who are trying to be heard. In Salt Lake City, for instance, Amy Galvez decided to carry the pro-troops, pro-mission torch after her son, Adam, was killed in Iraq. Among her most frequent targets has been her town’s adamant anti-war mayor, Rocky Anderson.
    Anderson says the powerful voices of those who have sacrificed children in Iraq – no matter their political views – are difficult for politicians like himself to ignore.
    “I just met the father and stepmother of a young Marine who was recently killed in Iraq,” said Anderson, who visited Washington, D.C., last week for an environmental conference and, while there, participated in several anti-war events. “It brought me to tears to see him holding his son’s boots and dog tags.
    “When we hear from mothers and fathers who have lost sons, that . . . brings it home to a lot of people that may view it in abstract terms otherwise.”
    But even as “war moms” become more prominent as advocates, they’re also increasingly targeted for criticism – and from both sides of the debate.
    Prominent war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, has been a frequent target of conservative pundits, including talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who lambasted her protest as “nothing more than forged documents. . . . There’s nothing about it that’s real.”
    More recently, Tina Richards, the mother of a Marine who has gained notoriety for her bold confrontations with members of Congress, was called “a fraud” by liberal bloggers who said she should focus more of her attention on Republicans.
    In an interview last week with National Public Radio, Richards parried criticism of her chosen tactics and targets. And she played down her power as a symbol of the anti-war movement.
    “I’m just a Marine mom, wanting to talk and find out how we’re going to get together and end this war,” she said.


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