Saturday 18th March was an International Day of Mobilisation against the war and occupation in Iraq, marking the three year anniversary of the war. It was backed by call from the WSF Assembly of the Movements, meeting in Venezuela on 29 January 2006. Over the weekend of the 18th hundreds of demonstrations took place throughout the world demanding to end to the occupation of Iraq, and protesting against a possible attack on Iran.
The London demo
Summary from the Stop The War Coalition
On a bitterly cold and windy Saturday tens of thousands of people gathered in Parliament Square from across the country at the start of the London demonstration. Tables were set up to collect signatures for the Tony Benn UN/Attorney General letter calling for the war criminals to be brought to account. A British demonstration finally caught up with the 21st century as others were able to send text messages to add their names to the petition. The Theatre of War enacted a 'trial' of Tony Blair, kitted out in robes and wigs. David Gentleman organised a team from early in the morning to lay out the 100,000 blood spots which covered half of the Square and cartoons from Ralph Steadman, Leon Kuhn and Nicholas Wood were displayed before being mounted at the rally in Trafalgar Square. The police chased a man with a sign saying 'Give War a Chance' and questioned him closely, clearly lacking any sense of irony. Shame they don’t chase the man who gives war every chance. The march set off along Victoria Street, behind Buckingham Palace and along Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square. As the front of the march arrived in the Square the tail was leaving Parliament. By the time the last marchers arrived in the Square most of the speeches were over. Speakers included London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, Hassan Zargani (Al Sadr Movement, Iraq), trade union leaders, MP’s Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway, ex-ambassador Craig Murray, Brian Eno and Military Families Against The War. Some of the loudest cheers were reserved for Ben Griffin, the ex-SAS trooper who refused to return to Iraq, and who accused the 'Coalition'forces of war crimes. There was a massive foreign media presence and less than overwhelming interest from the BBC. The demo was totally ignored on the evening TV news and when we asked them why were told there were too few people present to make it newsworthy. Questioned about their estimate on numbers the BBC quoted the Metropolitan Police figure of 15,000. Asked whether they always believed the police figures the answer was, No, not always but this time yes. We estimate that this demonstration attracted the support of between 80 - 1000,000 people and we can add that the Saturday marchers represent majority opinion in this country who demand that our troops be pulled out of Iraq, for there to be no attack on Iran and for the defence of the Muslim community. And the future? As Stop the War Coalition's John Rees has put it: 'so long as they continue to kill we will continue to march.'