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April 12, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Protesters Call for Return of Soldiers
Having Failed to Keep U.S. Troops Out of Iraq, Anti-War Protesters March to Bring Them Home

The Associated Press


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WASHINGTON April 12

Having failed to keep U.S. troops out of Iraq, anti-war protesters are marching to bring them home.

Opponents of the conflict said U.S. troops should leave Iraq quickly rather than remain in a region once controlled by Western powers.

"Occupation is not liberation," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a civil rights lawyer and an organizer of a Saturday rally in Washington sponsored by International Answer. "Whether they can conquer it militarily is one thing; whether they can turn it into an obedient client state is another."

Protesters also were gathering Saturday in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Organizers said they expected far fewer people than at previous protests, which attracted demonstrators in numbers not seen since the Vietnam War.

Demonstrators took to the streets as well in several other countries, albeit not on the scale as past protests, such as the February march in London that drew up to 2 million people.

This time, tens of thousands of demonstrators in London, many holding placards demanding "No occupation of Iraq," paused for two minutes of silence for the victims of war. They tossed bunches of yellow daffodils at the gates of Prime Minister Tony Blair's home.

Several protests were staged in Asia, including nearly 50,000 school children and others in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In the Far East, around 4,000 protesters gathered in Seoul, South Korea, to demand the government rescind its decision to send noncombat troops to help U.S.-led forces in Iraq. In Hong Kong, around 100 demonstrators chanted anti-war slogans outside the U.S. consulate.

Organizers in Washington obtained a permit for 20,000 demonstrators, far fewer than the tens of thousands who filled blocks of city streets in both January and March. This time, instead of marching only past the White House and Justice Department, the protest route ran past offices of companies that organizers said are profiting from the war and past media organizations they said ignored the plight of Iraqi civilians.

Supporters of the war planned their own rally Saturday, featuring Watergate conspirator-turned-conservative talk show host G. Gordon Liddy; Republican senator-turned-TV actor Fred Thompson; and country music singer Aaron Tippin. Participants were being asked to bring letters of support for the troops along with items needed by U.S. forces in Iraq, such as baby wipes, sunscreen, toothpaste and prepaid international calling cards.

The event was organized by Citizens United, headed by former congressional aide David Bossie, one of President Clinton's severest critics; and the Young America's Foundation, headed by Floyd Brown, architect of the Willie Horton ads that helped elect the first President Bush.

They were expecting a much larger crowd than the 100 or so counterdemonstrators who waived signs along the last antiwar march route.

For activists, the Iraq war has overshadowed the spring meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. While previous meetings of the financial institutions have served a magnet for thousands of demonstrators, a protest Thursday morning attracted just 20 protesters, and no more than 2,000 were expected for a march Sunday.

Security was tight for the meetings. Police closed several streets around the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters, but downtown streets were quiet.

On the Net: 50 Years is Enough Network:

International Answer:

Citizens United:


photo credit and caption:
An anti-war protester wears a protective mask against SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome as she join others in the Global Day of Protest Against the U.S. Occupation of Iraq Saturday, April 12, 2003 in Manila. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

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

 
 
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