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The ongoing eight-year War in Afghanistan has prompted large protests around the world, with the first large-scale demonstrations beginning in the days leading up to the war's official launch on October 7, 2001. So far, however, the protests have not beeen as prominent as Protests against the Iraq War.

A roll call opposite Downing Street

Contents

2001

On September 29, 2001, as many as 20,000 people demonstrated in Washington, DC, USA, denouncing the impending invasion of Afghanistan. The protests were organized by the recently formed A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition. Thousands gathered at Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park) and marched downtown, while elsewhere members of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence clashed briefly with police on their way to Edward R. Murrow park, across from the headquarters of the World Bank and the IMF. Both groups of marchers converged on a rally at the Freedom Plaza. [1]

In San Francisco, USA, almost 10,000 people converged on a park in San Francisco’s Mission District to denounce the Bush administration’s plans for military intervention in Afghanistan.[2]

In Los Angeles, USA, roughly 2,500 protesters marched through the streets of Westwood.[3]

In New York City, USA, 3,000 to 5,000 people took part in a peace march at Union Square. [4]

Demonstrations were also held in the Netherlands, Spain and Greece. Over 10,000 people filled Amsterdam’s central square, the Dam, for an open air meeting with "Justice, not revenge" as the main slogan of the protest. It was the largest peace action in the Netherlands since the 1980s, when half a million people marched against the deployment of NATO missiles in their country. [4]

In Barcelona, Spain, 5,000 people attended a rally and marched behind a banner that read: "No More Victims—For Peace." The protesters urged the Spanish government not to support any US military intervention or NATO retaliation. [4]

On October 1, 2001, several thousand protesters demonstrated in New York City, USA, against any military offensive in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and near Washington. Sporting buttons that said "Don't Turn Tragedy into War" and "Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War", many protesters argued that the attacks were not an act of war but a criminal act to be dealt with through the international justice system.[5]

On October 7, 2001, 10,000 to 12,000 people turned out in New York City, USA, to oppose the Bush administration's so-called war on terrorism. The group marched from Union Square to Times Square, cheering the police at the beginning of the march. The list of about twelve speakers was cut to three or four by the police, and they were herded at the end into a one-lane-wide "bullpen".

The October 7 March was only the latest in a string of anti-war protests in major USA cities and on college campuses. Demonstrations also took place in other countries around the world in recent days, including in Paris, France, where 5,000 people marched from the Place de la Republique to the Place de Nation to protest military action by the US. [1][6]

On October 13, 2001, more than 20,000 people joined the UK's biggest protest yet against military action in Afghanistan by the USA and its allies. Turn-out was twice as big as had been expected by organisers, with the noisy but peaceful march through London culminating in a rally at Trafalgar Square.[7 ][8 ]

In Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, around 1,500 people gathered in George Square for a rally against the military action in Afghanistan.[7 ]

In Germany more than 25,000 protesters took to the streets in cities across the country. In Berlin, the largest demonstration drew 15,000 people to the central square in a rally that followed several marches throughout the city under the banner "No war — stand up for peace".[7 ][8 ]

In Sweden the biggest demonstration took place in Gothenburg, where more than 2,500 people marched through the city.[7 ]

In San Francisco, USA, 10,000 people took to the streets, while a rally in Washington Square in New York City, USA, attracted some 700 people.[8 ]

In Australia, thousands of people demonstrated in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.[7 ]

On October 14, 2001, hundreds of thousands of peace protesters in Italy and India called for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan. More than 200,000 demonstrators took part in the peace march from the central Italian town of Perugia to Assisi, with protesters shouting "Stop the terrorism against Afghanistan", "We want peace not war", and chanting slogans attacking George Bush, the United States president. [9]

In India, 70,000 people in Calcutta staged the biggest anti-war protest the country had ever seen. The protesters marched more than 7.5 miles through the city, entertained by performers who sang anti-war folk songs. [9]

On November 10, 2001, after weeks of bombing, hundreds of protesters took to the streets across the United Kingdom to call for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan. In Bolton 250 people gathered in the town's Victoria Square. In York, about 200 protesters called for an end to the war during a two-hour demonstration. A vigil was held in London.[10]

On November 18, 2001, thousands — police estimated 15,000, organizers estimated 100,000 - from all over the UK took part in a march in London to demonstrate again against the war in Afghanistan.

Many protesters waved placards reading "Stop the War" and "Not in My Name".[11] As the demonstration fell during Ramadan, an element of prayer was included in the final rally to allow pious Muslims to observe their faith. Headlining speakers included human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, Labour Party veteran Tony Benn, Labour MP George Galloway, and speakers of Muslim faith.

Member of Parliament Paul Marsden told the rally:

"You are sending another powerful message to Number 10 and to the White House that we are not simply going to allow the atrocities of September 11 to be replaced with further atrocities in Afghanistan."

Organiser Lindsey German said the bombing campaign had done nothing to tackle international terrorism.

"The war aims were never to install the Northern Alliance into Afghanistan to replace the Taleban. Most people who know anything about both regimes regard the Northern Alliance as just as bad."

At the time the protest was the largest peace demonstration in more than twenty years.[12]

2002

On April 20, 2002, 75,000 people marched in Washington DC against USA militarism and foreign policy in the largest peace presence since the war began the previous fall.[13] The April 20th Mobilization to Stop the War, a coalition of many groups, held a rally just south of the Washington Monument. Another protest focusing on Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people was held near the White House, while a third protest focusing on the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund took place near the headquarters of those institutions. The three rallies then converged together in a march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the United States Capitol in the largest anti-war demonstration to take place in Washington since the Gulf War more than a decade ago. [14]

Protesters denounced the bombing of Afghan civilians and carried signs and banners reading, "No blank check for endless war," "Criminals in the White House again" and "War without an end. Not in our name." [14]

Some of the most moving speeches opposing the USA's aggression were given by family members of victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11. Derril Bodley, who lost a daughter on September 11, said he had travelled to Afghanistan to call for an end to the "barbarous bombing campaign there." Just a few days after his daughter’s death he spoke out against the possibility of war, saying, "Don’t kill more innocent people in the name of my daughter." He said thousands were suffering and dying by the "perpetration of an aimless war." [14]

Another speaker, Michael Ratner, a human rights lawyer and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, denounced the conditions in which hundreds of prisoners captured in Afghanistan were being held at the USA's military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

"There are 300 people there right now, in dog cages, surrounded by chain-linked fences, in temperatures of over 100 degrees, infested by vermin in a desert in Cuba. We went to an international court, and the Organization of American States says this is illegal. The US says: ‘We don’t care.’

Another 15,000 to 20,000 people marched in San Francisco, New York City, USA, in a simultaneous protest on the West Coast. [14]

2003

On October 12, 2003, an estimated 150,000 demonstrators took part in a peace march in Perugia, Italy to protest war. Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother Bill, 30, in the September 11 terrorist attacks two years before and founded the Peaceful Tomorrows organization said:[15]

"I want to tell people that war is an outdated way to achieve peace. There are alternatives to pre-emptive wars. We have got to look for an effective non-violent response to terrorism."

2005

On August 17, 2005, over 1,000 people took part in a vigil in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, USA, to protest the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Organizers estimated the number at 1,200. Catherine Statz, who lost her sister on September 11, 2001, said:[16]

"I think we're there because they've used Sept. 11 to move into Afghanistan and Iraq," she said. "It's not about the price of oil, it's about the control. It's about getting a foothold in the Mideast."

2006

On September 23, 2006, tens of thousands of people marched in Manchester, UK, against the presence of UK troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organizers estimated that about 30,000 people participated. Police put the figure at about 20,000. Speakers at a rally accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of following the USA into illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.[17][18]

On Saturday October 28, 2006, thousands of protesters opposed to Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan rallied in 40 cities and towns. Under the slogan "Support our troops, bring 'em home", as many as 500 demonstrators marched through downtown Ottawa to Parliament Hill to protest the military mission and demand the return of Canadian troops. Hundreds of protesters in Toronto and Montreal, 200 in Halifax, 100 in Edmonton, more than a 100 in Calgary, and more than 500 in Vancouver also took to the streets. Themes of the demonstrations included demands that the troops be brought home from Afghanistan and demands that the mission of the Canadian Forces in that country shift from a combat role to a peace keeping and humanitarian presence. Placards expressed such sentiments as "Build Homes Not Bombs," "Drop Tuition Not Bombs" and "Is This Really Peacekeeping". A total of 42 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat had so far been killed in Afghanistan.[19]

Thousands of Pakistani tribesmen near the border with Afghanistan held a rally to protest against a missile attack that killed 80 people. About 5,000 tribesman held a protest march in Khar, the capital town of Bajaur tribal district, some 10 km south-east of the scene of the attack. The tribesmen said the dead, housed in a seminary, were merely students and that their families should be compensated. The effigies of U.S. president George Bush and Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf were paraded on mules before being set on fire. Since the U.S. air-strike on the school, thousands of local people have taken part in protests against Islamabad's alliance with the US.[20]

2007

On February 23, 2007, hundreds of Canadians braved wind, rain, and snow to take part in rallies in cities across Canada to protest their country's military operation in Afghanistan, urging their government to bring Canadian troops home. In Vancouver, about 600 people rallied and marched through the downtown core. In Toronto, hundreds of protesters held a rally outside the U.S. consulate. Nearly 500 people marched through downtown Montreal. About 200 people gathered in front of city hall in Halifax. Demonstrations also took place in Edmonton, Quebec City, and St. John's, Newfoundland.[21]

June 22, 2007 protest in Quebec City against Canada's involvement in the Afghan war.

On April 30, 2007, thousands of Afghans staged a protest accusing USA-led coalition and Afghan troops of killing civilians in the western province of Herat. The protesters stormed a government district headquarters in Shindand, south of Herat city, where Western troops have a large base. The anti-U.S. protest came a day after an angry demonstration in eastern Nangahar province over the killing of civilians by coalition and Afghan forces there.[22]

On June 22, 2007, protesters in Quebec City took part in a march to denounce the Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan and the deployment of additional troops to Kandahar province.

On Saturday October 27, 2007, rallies took place in 22 different Canadian cities to protest against the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan. In Montreal, around 300 protesters marched despite heavy rain, while protests in Toronto and Ottawa numbered around 200. At the time, 70 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat had been killed in Afghanistan.[23]

2008

On March 15, 2008, thousands of protesters gathered in London and Glasgow to call for the withdrawal of UK troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Police said there were 10,000 people on the streets in London but organizers put the crowds at between 30,000 to 40,000. In Glasgow, there 1,000 to 1,500 people took part in the march, according to police estimates.[24]

On September 20, 2008, thousands of people in France and Germany took to the streets calling for soldiers deployed in Afghanistan to be brought home. More than 5,000 people took to the streets in the German cities of Berlin and Stuttgart to protest against the decision to prolong the deployment of German troops in Afghanistan. According to police estimates, over 3,300 people in Berlin, and over 2,000 people in Stuttgart took part in the rallies, while event organizers put the total figure at 7,000 people.

In France, marches took place in about 10 cities. Around 3,000 people took part in the largest march in Paris. At the time of the protests, around 30 German troops and 24 French troops had been killed in Afghanistan.[25][26][27]

In the United Kingdom thousands of anti-war demonstrators staged a noisy protest in Manchester to deliver an anti-war message to the government. Over 5,000 people joined in the march to call for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.[28] At the time, 120 British soldiers had died in Afghanistan, and 176 had died in Iraq.

On Saturday, October 18, 2008, hundreds of Canadians marched in rallies held in 16 different cities across Canada to protest the country's military involvement in Afghanistan. In Toronto, more than 300 people gathered at Queen's Park to send Prime Minister Stephen Harper a clear message: Bring our troops home, now.[29] In Montreal, hundreds of people turned out to demand Canadian troops be brought home and to shine a light on the dollars-and-cents costs of a growing defence establishment.[30] In Ottawa, around 150 people marched at a rally on Parliament Hill demanding that Prime Minister Stephen Harper bring the troops home.[31] A total of 97 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat had so far been killed in Afghanistan.[32]

On December 18, 2008, more than 10,000 people in Pakistan protested their government's logistical support for U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan and demanded an end to U.S. missile strikes into Pakistan along the Afghan border. In Peshawar, up to 5,000 people joined the protest as they marched in the streets of the city.[33][34][35][36]

On December 20, 2008, Canadians in Montreal and Toronto threw shoes at posters of George Bush in front of their respective U.S. consulates during protests against the U.S. military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and against Canada's involvement in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.[37]

2009

On March 20, 2009, in the first large demonstration in Washington since Obama took office, thousands of Americans, some bearing mock coffins to protest war casualties, took the streets on the sixth anniversary of the 2003 Iraq invasion to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [38]

More than 10,000 people marched on the Pentagon. Led by a contingent of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, the protesters proceeded on to the headquarters of major military-industrial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and KBR, corporations that the demonstrators characterized as "merchants of death" and to which they sought to deliver symbolic coffins. [39]

In Los Angeles, thousands marched down Hollywood Boulevard to call for all U.S. troops to be brought home. A 4,000-strong crowd took part in the "Stop the Wars" march and rally. [38][40]

Another 4,000 people demonstrated in San Francisco. [39] Rallies against the wars similarly took place in New York City, San Diego, Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and other American cities. [38][41][42][43][44][45]

On March 28, 2009, up to 15,000 protesters marched through central London to demonstrate ahead of the G20 summit of world leaders. The Put People First march, organized by an alliance of more than 150 anti-war, environment, charity, labour, student, faith, and development groups, included calls for Western troops to pull out of Afghanistan and protesters chanting "What do we want? Jobs not bombs."[46]

On October 7, 2009, Students for a Democratic Society called a national day of action against the war in Afghanistan. Over 25 chapters of SDS planned and held various actions around the country.[47][48] A "Funk the War" march led by Rochester SDS was forcibly ended by the police, with 12 of the 60 marchers arrested and later released or bailed out.[49][50]

On the weekend of October 17-18, 2009, anti-war protests took place in 50 cities across the United States. In Boston, hundreds of protesters gathered at Copley Square to protest the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Zoya, a 28-year-old Afghan woman spoke against the U.S.-led war in her country, saying her homeland does not need more foreign occupation. Suzette Abbot, carrying a sign that read "Yes We Can Get Out of Afghanistan", said "Obama needs to make good on his promises. We all worked to get him elected. Now he needs to earn that peace prize."[51 ][52][53]

In Minneapolis, 400 people marched, calling for an end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and an end to the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq.[51 ]

The organizers in Minneapolis stated:

"President Obama is reported to be listening to the generals about the next steps in Afghanistan; he should be listening to the people, who want an end to the war."
"During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. government is spending billions for wars and occupations, while millions lose their jobs and housing and go without health insurance."

On October 24, 2009, more than 10,000 people marched through the streets of London in protest against the war, which they said is a futile and unwinnable conflict. Protesters called for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, gathering first at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, before marching to Trafalgar Square. The number of British soldiers killed in the eight-year-long war was 222 at the time of the protest.[54] [55][56 ] [57][58]

Lance Cpl. Joe Glenton defied orders from his commanding officer to become the first serving soldier to openly attend a national anti-war demonstration. He stated:

"When I went to Afghanistan I was proud to serve the Army and to serve my country, but before long I realised the government as using the Army for its own ends."
"It is distressing to disobey orders, but when Britain follows America in continuing to wage war against one of the world's poorest countries I feel I have no choice."

Paul McGuirk, who served in Afghanistan until April 2008 but left the Army because he could not support the war in Afghanistan, said:

"I think the government should stop pretending it's a just war and wasting the lives of our guys, and stop pretending it's a winnable war."

The oldest protester taking part in the march, Hetty Bower, 104, lived through both World Wars and said she felt nothing has been learnt. She recalled seeing cheering young men as they marched to the trenches when she was nine-years-old.

"It didn't take long before we saw those men coming back missing legs and missing arms, totally blind and war was no longer fun."

On Saturday, November 14, 2009, around 1,000 people demonstrated against the war as NATO's parliamentary met in Edinburgh, Scotland while at the same time a poll showed that the majority 71% of Britons want British military forces withdrawn from Afghanistan within 12 months.[59][60]

On the same day, about 200 South Koreans in Seoul protested their government's plan to send troops to Afghanistan. Lee Jung-hee, a lawmaker with the opposition Democratic Labor Party said: "We should not fall into the swamp of the U.S. anti-terror war."[61]

See also

References

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  15. ^ "'Peace Pilgrims' Protest Against War". Commondreams.org. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1012-04.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  
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  20. ^ "Thousand protest at school raid". BBC News. 2006-11-03. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6113046.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  
  21. ^ Canadians protest Afghanistan mission
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  25. ^ Thousands in France, Germany, protest Afghan deployment
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  27. ^ Thousands in France, Germany protest Afghan military deployments
  28. ^ Thousands join anti-war protest
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  33. ^ Pakistanis protest US supply line into Afghanistan
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  46. ^ Alderson, Andrew (2009-03-28). "G20 protests: chanting demonstrators march to London's Hyde Park ahead of talks". Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5066498/G20-protests-chanting-demonstraters-march-to-Londons-Hyde-Park-ahead-of-talks.html. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  
  47. ^ Ginsberg-Jaeckle, Daniel (2009-10-07). "Students ready to protest eight years of U.S. occupation in Afghanistan". Fight Back! News. http://www.fightbacknews.org/2009/10/1/students-ready-protest-eight-years-us-occupation-afghanistan.  
  48. ^ "Students to Protest War in Afghanistan on 25 Campuses". Students for a Democratic Society. 2009-10-06. http://newsds.org/?q=node/196.  
  49. ^ "Police Brutally Attack Funk the War". Rochester Independent Media Center (Indymedia). 2009-10-07. http://rochester.indymedia.org/feature/display/19958/index.php.  
  50. ^ "Anti-War Actions on 26 Campuses, Rochester Action Violently Repressed!". Students for a Democratic Society. 2009-10-10. http://newsds.org/?q=node/197.  
  51. ^ a b 400 join Minneapolis anti-war protest
  52. ^ Anti-war protesters gather at Copley Square
  53. ^ Demonstrators in the pink in Copley Square
  54. ^ Thousands protest over war in Afghanistan
  55. ^ Serving British soldier leads 5,000 in Afghan war protest in central London
  56. ^ Protesters urge end to Afghan war
  57. ^ Protesters rail against 'futile' war
  58. ^ Rebel British soldier calls for Afghan exit
  59. ^ Support grows for Afghanistan pullout: poll
  60. ^ Afghan war protest targets NATO meet in Edinburgh
  61. ^ South Koreans protest Afghan troop dispatch

Further reading

  • Stop the War: the story of Britain's biggest mass movement, Andrew Murray and Lindsey German, ISBN 1-905192-00-2

External links

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