Protesters rally on Iraq war anniversary

Three years after US invasion, protestors take to the streets against war.

iraq protest us (photo credit: AP)
iraq protest us
(photo credit: AP)
Joining their counterparts around the country and the world, demonstrators rallied in Times Square to mark the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, demanding that troops be pulled out. "We say enough hypocrisy, enough lies, our soldiers must come home now," said Wael Musfar of the Arab Muslim American Federation. He addressed the crowd, gathered near a military recruiting station guarded by police vehicles and mounted officers, from the flatbed of a truck draped with anti-war messages. "Stop the US war machine, from Iraq to Korea to the Philippines," some participants chanted. "And free, free, free Palestine and end the occupation." Other participants showed up at the rally to send messages of support to US troops in Iraq. "I have friends in Iraq and I just want them to know that I may not be able to support them there, but I can here," said Jose Avila, 36. The anti-war scene was being repeated around the United States and around the globe. At Dudley Square in Boston, a few hundred college-aged activists and baby boomers waved placards that read "Impeach Bush" and "Stop the War." Susan McLucas, a self-described peace activist and international volunteer, wore a homemade sandwich board that read: "Bush Lied! 100,000 died!" "It's a war based on lies," said McLucas, 57. "We are gaining strength. The war is becoming more and more unpopular." In Los Angeles, several thousand people lined up on Hollywood Boulevard for an anti-war march. Protesters wearing black T-shirts with the slogan "2,300 dead - How many more?" carried dozens of flag-draped mock coffins. To the north, in San Francisco, several thousand protesters danced in the streets, beat drums, dressed as members of President George W. Bush's cabinet and carried signs that read "United World Not United States" and "Stop US Imperialism." While thousands showed up to protest in London, the numbers were disappointing to organizers. London police said about 15,000 people joined a march from Parliament and Big Ben to a rally in Trafalgar Square; organizers had expected 100,000. Some protesters carried posters calling Bush a terrorist and other placards pictured Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying "Blair must go!" Britain has about 8,000 soldiers in Iraq but plans to pull out 800 by May. In Australia, around 500 protesters marched through central Sydney, chanting "End the war now" and "Troops out of Iraq." Many campaigners waved placards branding Bush the "World's No. 1 Terrorist" or expressing concerns that Iran could be the next country to face invasion. In Tokyo, about 2,000 people rallied in a downtown park, carrying signs saying "Stop the Occupation" as they listened to a series of anti-war speeches. "The war is illegal under international law," said Takeshiko Tsukushi, a member of World Peace Now, which helped plan the rally. "We want the immediate withdrawal of the Self Defense Forces and from Iraq along with all foreign troops." In Turkey, thousands gathered in Istanbul for protests and other demonstrations were planned in the cities of Izmir, Trabzon and the capital, Ankara. Opposition to the war is nearly universal in Turkey and cuts across all political stripes. "USA, go home!" said red and black signs carried by hundreds of the some 5,000 protesters gathered in Kadikoy on the city's Asian coast. In Sweden, about 1,000 demonstrators gathered for a rally in Stockholm before a march to the US Embassy. Some protesters carried banners reading "No to US warmongering" and "USA out of Iraq," while others held up a US flag with the white stars replaced by dollar signs. "More and more people today are realizing that the Iraq war is becoming a new Vietnam," said Skold Peter Matthis, one of the organizers of the protest. "But today, the USA is even more dangerous than it was then, because they have a monopoly on being a superpower." Anti-war demonstrations were also planned in Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece, Denmark and Puerto Rico.