Hundreds of protesters participated in an anti-war march in downtown San Francisco, March 21 demanding an end to the United States-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. March 20 marked the sixth year of the invasion and colonial subjugation of Iraq.
BY MONG PALATINO
SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Hundreds of protesters participated in an anti-war march here, March 21 demanding an end to the United States-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. March 20 marked the sixth year of the invasion and colonial subjugation of Iraq.
Organized by the International League of People’s Struggle – Bay Area Organizing Committee, the Strength in Unity contingent assembled in a park near the Embarcadero late in the morning before proceeding to the main demonstration site at Justin Herman Plaza. Around noon, the group marched with other formations towards the Civic Center.
The ILPS contingent was composed of 220 students, workers, professionals, and human rights activists from around the Bay Area communities. The Philippine delegation was led by BAYAN USA Northern California region and member organizations Anakbayan East Bay, Babae SF, Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines SF, and League of Filipino Students – San Francisco State University.
Filipino-Americans join the rally commemorating the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq in San Francisco, USA.(Contributed photo)
Other members of the contingent included Active Leadership to Advance the Youth, Arab Resource and Organizing Committee, Collision Course Video, Chinese Progressive Association, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, General Union of Palestinian Students of San Francisco State University, Filipino Community Center, and Viet Unity.
Carrying colorful and big placards recycled from balikbayan boxes, protesters demanded that the Obama administration stops the criminal and genocidal occupation of Iraq by removing U.S. troops stationed in the war-ravaged country. They also criticized Obama’s recent decision to add at least 17,000 more troops in Afghanistan. The illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed, displaced, and injured millions of innocent Iraqis and Afghans.
During the protest rally, various groups organized discussion sessions and distributed statements denouncing the continued imperialist aggression of the U.S. They reminded Obama of their earlier challenge to pull out troops in various countries in the Middle East and other countries like Japan and the Philippines.
Protesters also highlighted the escalating cost of the war and contrasted this to the dwindling funds for social services. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has spent more than USD 600 billion on the war in Iraq, and more than USD 200 billion in Afghanistan. Instead of using taxpayers’ money to finance the brutal massacre of Iraq and Afghanistan, protesters want the government to prioritize the improvement of social welfare and the economic conditions of its citizens.
ILPS members pointed out that it is unjust, immoral, and wrong to spend billions of dollars on various killing machines while millions of Americans are losing their jobs, homes, and retirement savings everyday. Aside from articulating the usual list of anti-war demands, protesters echoed the sentiments of ordinary Americans seeking immediate economic relief. Activists ordered policymakers to “Bailout the working people, not the rich.”