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Volume 3,  Number 11              April 13 - 19, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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“Global Day of Protest” Condemns U.S. Occupation of Iraq

Millions of anti-war protesters took to the streets all over the world on April 12 to decry the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, more than three weeks after the “shock and awe” air strikes and ground offensives by “coalition forces” were launched. Anti-war militants in the Philippines took part in the “Global Day of Protest,” mobilizing some 50,000 in the nationally-coordinated mass actions.

By Ronalyn Olea

The worldwide anti-war movement marked April 12 a “Global Day of Protest” against the U.S. armed occupation of Iraq with the U.S.-based anti-war coalition, ANSWER, and the Philippine-based ILPS coordinating the global and Asia-Pacific protests, respectively.

Across Asia and Oceania, hundreds of thousands of people in15 countries, including the Philippines, took to the streets to protest the invasion and occupation of Iraq by U.S. and British forces. The Quezon City-based International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) said the street protests took place aside from the Philippines, in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyztan (former Soviet republic) and Australia.

Scenes from April 12 anti-war rally: In keeping with the Lenten season, protesters compare Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo with Herod,, U.S. Pres. Bush with Pontius Pilate, and the Filipino people with Jesus Christ.

The call for international action against the U.S. occupation of Iraq was initiated by Stop the War Coalition in England, ANSWER in the U.S. and various anti-war groups in Germany.  The groups’ invitation for global protests read in part, “It is becoming clear to millions that this is not a war for Iraqi liberation but a bloody military invasion…further coordinated international action can make it difficult for Bush and Blair to continue the carnage.”

The groups said that massive demonstrations in recent months where in one day alone up to 40 million people turned out to respond to calls for internationally-coordinated protests, were decisive in the political isolation of U.S. President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and their war plans.

Other countries

In other parts of the globe, anti-war groups mobilized with millions of marchers in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haifa, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden and Venezuela.

Reporting on last Saturday’s global protests, Rita Baua, secretary general of ILPS-Philippines said, “The mass actions were a salute to the heroic people of Iraq for fighting and resisting the invasion of their country by the U.S.”

Baua told Bulatlat.com that Bush and Blair be tried as “war criminals” by an international people’s tribunal. 

Baua said both leaders are guilty of violating human rights of the Iraqi people, as well as their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  She added that the “coalition forces” grossly violated international humanitarian laws including the rights of non-combatants and humanitarian norms of war.

In the Philippines, about 50, 000 activists across the country participated in marches and rallies to decry the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Macapagal-Arroyo government’s commitment to peacekeeping and reconstuction of Iraq.

Simultaneous demonstrations were held in 18 towns and cities.  Justice Not War Coalition (JNWC), ILPS-Philippines and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan led the protest actions in Baguio, Vigan, Clark Air Field, Cebu City, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Davao City, Cotabato City, Agusan del Sur, Butuan, Tandag, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Kidapawan and General Santos.

Symbolic protest

In Manila, cultural groups under the banner of Artists for Peace adopted the Senakulo (passion of Christ) to dramatize their protest to the U.S. invasion.  Senakulo is one of the traditional rites of Filipino Christians  during Holy Week.

Edwin Quinsayas, who directed the play, revealed that symbolisms in the Senakulo are very timely.  He said the “Passion of Christ” highlights the plight of the majority of Filipinos aggravated by the president’s support for the U.S. invasion.

Quinsayas said U.S. imperialism is Pontius Pilate and President Macapagal-Arroyo is Herod.  “Pinakaimportante rito si Kristo bilang mamamayan” (The most important character here is Christ as the people), Quinsayas said.

Christ’s Resurrection is depicted as the growing anti-war movement of the peoples of the world.  Hindi maaaring tumigil sa pagtangis, kailangan ang sama-samang pagkilos sa paglutas ng suliranin” (It is not enough to mourn, collective action is needed in solving problems), said Quinsayas.

The short play was presented in Trabajo and Bustillos public markets and at the foot of the Don Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) Bridge, in Manila.

GMA’s support

Meanwhile, Bayan suggested that the “Coalition of the Willing” – referring to some 40 countries reined in Bush to support his war - install Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the next president of Iraq.

Teddy Casiño, Bayan secretary general, said Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo has all the sterling qualifications of an American stooge who can effectively oversee dividing the spoils of war in favor of U.S. interests.

Speaking at the Don Chino Roces rally, Apolinario Alvarez of Anakbayan assailed the sending of 500 peacekeeping forces to Iraq.  Ang mga sundalong Pilipino ay isasabak sa patuloy na lumalabang mamamayang Iraqi” (Filipino troops will be sent to Iraq to fight the Iraqi people), he said.

In another statement, Maita Santiago of JNWC said they feel insulted when Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo likened the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq to People Power I and II.  While both uprisings toppled isolated presidents, the U.S. invaded Iraq by military means, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, she said.


Filipino Muslims also expressed their outrage over the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Members of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) held prayers for the Iraqi people at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo before they joined the rally in Mendiola.

Cosain Naga Jr., MCPA spokesperson, said the U.S. and U.K. governments shamelessly trumpet “liberation and democracy” while they continue the carnage against the innocent people of Iraq.

Naga pointed out that the terrorism suffered by the Iraqi people akin to the terrorism experienced by war-torn Muslims in Mindanao.

“Hundreds of Moro men, including women and children, are declared by the Arroyo government as terrorists or coddlers of terrorists,” said Naga.  He cited as example Friday’s crackdown of 200 Muslims suspected for the series of bombings in Davao City. Bulatlat.com  

All photos were taken by Aubrey SC Makilan/Bulatlat.com

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