Largest Coordinated Worldwide
Anti-War Protest in History!

by Norm Dixon

North Bay Progressive newspaper, Feb 25 - Mar 25, 2003


People throughout the world have thronged to anti-war demonstrations on February 14-16 [2003]. in numbers that even protest organizers thought unimaginable. Based on conservative estimates, more than 12 million people have taken part in the largest coordinated anti-war demonstration in history.

Outraged by the vicious determination of the U.S. and British governments to launch a massive, unprovoked, military attack on Iraq, people mobilized in more than 700 cities and towns, across more than 60 countries and on every continent even the McMurdo base in Antarctica!

The worldwide protests kicked off in Fiji on the morning of February 14 with the Fiji Anti-War Movement presenting a floral Valentine's Day protest to the representatives of the U.S., British and Australian governments.

In New York City on February 15, protesters braved icy winds to rally near the United Nations building, filling the streets for 20 blocks. Organizers estimated the crowd a more than 400,000 people. Another 300,000 people marched or rallied in around 140 cities and towns throughout the US, including 60,000 in Los Angeles, 50,000 in Seattle, 10,000 in Chicago and over 200,000 on February 16 in San Francisco.

In Canada 50,000 marched in Toronto on February 15 and 100,000 in Montreal. In Ottawa, 6000 people braved below freezing temperatures. Tens of thousands of Canadians also turned out for protests in Halifax, Windsor, Edmonton, Alberta and Victoria.

The biggest demonstrations took place in countries whose governments have defied the overwhelming public opposition to war. On February 15, a sea of people- with estimates as high as 2 million-flooded London.

Up to 60,000 people also mobilized in Glasgow, in order to confront Blair, who was speaking at a Labor Party conference in the city.

In Dublin and Belfast tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the city centers.

Millions more came out in Italy and Spain, whose right-wing governments have backed the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq-despite polls showing that 70% oppose even a UN-endorsed war on Iraq in these countries.

At least 2 million people from all over Italy converged on Rome. The historic center of Rome, between the Coliseum and piazza, was packed for hours in a slow-moving carnival of colored banners, dancing and music.

Many millions of people joined protests in Spain. This included 1.5 million in Barcelona, up to 2 million in the Spanish capital, Madrid, 500,000 in Valencia, 250,000 in Seville, 100,000 in Los Palmas and 100,000 in Cadiz.

Coaches carrying people from more than 300 German towns converged on Berlin on February 15. Around 500,000 protested, reported Der Spiegel.

Around 100,000 people marched in Brussels on February 15, where the march took three-and-a-half hours to cross the city center.

There were rallies in almost every European capital. According to reports on the Indymedia Network, 300,000 people protested across France, including 100,000 in Paris. Up to 100,000 marched in Athens. In Amsterdam, 75,000 protested. Around 100,000 people took part across Sweden, as did almost 25,000 in Finland.

Around 10,000 people marched in Auckland, New Zealand, on February 15. In the capital, Wellington, 8000 people rallied outside Parliament House. Protesters demand that the NZ Labor government withdraw a New Zealand navy frigate and an air force Orion aircraft from the Gulf.

In other parts of Asia, LaborNet Japan web site reported that 25,000 people gathered at an anti-war protest in Tokyo on February 14. In the Philippines, 6000 people marched to the U.S. embassy in Manila.

On February 15,3000 Malaysians demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Muslims and non-Muslims joined forces to chant anti-war slogans in Malay, English, Mandarin and Tamil.

In Pakistan, there were protests in 20 cities, including Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. The Labor Party Pakistan's Yousaf Baluch reported that more than 2000 people marched in Lahore on February 15. Demonstrators chanted slogans against imperialist aggression and in favor of the Iraqi people.

In Johannesburg, 20,000 people took to the streets under the banner of the Anti-War Coalition, chanting "No to war on Iraq."

In the Middle East, 10,000 protested in Damascus, Syria, on February 15, as did 10,000 in Beirut, Lebanon, and 5000 in Amman, Jordan. Three thousand rallied in Tel Aviv, in a protest coordinated with a similar one held in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.


Green Left Weekly, February 79, 2003.

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