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March 22, 2003
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Anti-War Protesters Refuse to Give Up
Anti-War Protesters Across the World Refuse to Give Up Despite Smaller Turnouts

The Associated Press

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LONDON March 22

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in cities around the world and outside U.S. military bases Saturday, but their rallies for an immediate end to war in Iraq were far smaller than recent protests.

"Bush, murderer," chanted protesters in Paris, while protesters in Helsinki, Finland roared, "George Bush, CIA, how many kids did you kill today?"

Despite large turnouts in some cities, the mostly peaceful marches were dwarfed by anti-war protests Feb. 15, which saw some of the largest demonstrations in history.

Organizers said there had not been much time to plan protests, but there was little sign of people responding to calls to pour into the streets or responding spontaneously to the start of war.

Jaakko Kartano, a student marching in Helsinki, said, "People ask what's the use of this, but our task is to instill faith in people and try and prevent anything like it (the war) happening again."

In London, marchers expressed frustration. Turnout was well down from last month's mass rally, which drew at least 750,000 people. Police estimated turnout Saturday at less than 100,000, while organizers claimed 150,000.

Many protesters said they did not expect British Prime Minister Tony Blair or President Bush to listen to them.

"I don't think there is a snowball's chance in hell this march will stop the war but it's going to send out a message to next time, maybe," said Ernie Vandermass, a student who marched in London.

Protests would grow as the war continued, organizers said, but some marchers said people were discouraged and support may be ebbing.

Saturday's biggest protests were in Europe, with dozens of demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people in Britain, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and other countries.

A few radicals scuffled with police on the fringes of some rallies, but there were no reports of significant clashes or arrests. Dozens of protesters hurled rocks and paint at police who used tear gas and dogs to stop them reaching the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway.

Police said 90,000 people marched in Paris.

French protesters singled out the McDonald's fast food chain as a symbol of American influence. Protesters pelted rocks at a restaurant in Strasbourg and others burst into a McDonald's in Lyon.

Protesters also gathered outside U.S. military bases in Europe.

About 5,000 people protested at an Air Force base in Fairford, England, from where U.S. B-52 bombers have been flying sorties. They laid flowers at the main gate for "the death of democracy."

In Santiago, Chile, more than 4,000 people marched through the city center. Some burned a U.S. flag and placed signs reading "boycotted" at the entrance to a McDonald's.

In Asia, the largest demonstrations were in Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic nation, but only a few thousand people took part. Some burned U.S. flags and photos of Bush.

"Fight back, Americans are killers," protesters chanted outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.

Protests were considerably smaller than anti-war demonstrations in recent weeks. Some 400 people protested in Tokyo, police said, compared to about 30,000 at a demonstration earlier this month.

Protests continued for a second day in the Middle East after violent anti-American clashes Friday, mainly involving students in small demonstrations.

Riot police used tear gas against some 200 high school students who threw stones near the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain. Hundreds of riot police watched as about 5,000 students gathered at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

"Oh Arab army! Where are you?" the Cairo students chanted, calling on Arab nations to send troops to support Iraq.

Some protests singled out Britain and Australia, the only nations fighting with U.S. forces. Italian police used tear gas to break up protesters who tossed paint at the British consulate in Venice and 4,000 people marched to the Australian embassy in New Zealand.

Denouncing the Australian prime minister, they chanted: "John Howard, you can't hide. We charge you with genocide."

photo credit and caption:
Some of the nearly 40,000 demonstrators who marched up the central avenue of Gothenburg, Sweden, Saturday, March 23, 2003, to protest against the war in Iraq. Gothenburg is the second largest Swedish city, located on the west coast. (AP Photo/Pressens Bild/Bobbo Lauhage)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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