Anti-war demonstrations continue across the globe
SYDNEY: Anti-war demonstrations were held across the world on Wednesday, with some turning into violence. American fast-food restaurants and diplomatic missions were a particular target of the mainly student-led protests against the US, British and Australian involvement in the war.
In the worst clashes, three police officers were injured when police came under a barrage of makeshift missiles, including chairs and stones, hurled during a demonstration in Sydney, Australia.
At least 60 students were arrested, wrestled to the ground by riot police, manacled with plastic handcuffs and forced into vans during the five-hour demonstration by about 2,000 students. A police spokeswoman said 11 students faced unspecified charges and the others received warnings. She did not know of their ages, but reporters said they saw children as young as 13 being detained. Four policemen were injured in the riot, which broke out as the rally began at Sydney’s town hall.
Rattling tambourines and beating drums, the students, many in school uniforms, protested by chanting anti-war slogans through the city centre and carrying anti-war banners. They left a trail of anti-war graffiti. Later, some fought skirmishes with riot police after they were stopped behind walls of police in front of Prime Minister John Howard’s Sydney office. “A large group of Middle Eastern males started to pick up cafe furniture from the area and threw it at the police,” Sydney Police Chief Dick Adams said. Police said there had been deliberate attempts to taunt officers and provoke violence among the school and university students, including primary school pupils as young as 10. Arabic youths wearing Palestinian-style headscarves were blamed for sparking off violence, police sources said.
It was unclear why the Sydney rally turned into a riot, some students suggesting that police refused to allow them to march and others said it was the arrest of a young girl that sparked the violence. A few students, who participated in a peaceful rally in Sydney earlier this month, were embarrassed at the rally’s violence. “We came here for peace and not to start another war,” said Sian Parslow, a student here.
In Melbourne, around 5,000 students protested against the US, burning US flags. One person was arrested in Brisbane during a rowdy anti-war march of more than 500 university and high school students. Another 12 students were arrested in Perth, where mounted police broke a protest by students. In Adelaide, 800 students picketed the Advertiser newspaper, which they accused of being pro-war. The Advertiser belongs to media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who has publicly backed the strikes on Iraq. Around 30,000 anti-war protesters marched through Sydney, earlier on Sunday. Polls have shown that support among Australians for the US-led war against Iraq has been growing since the war started.
Indonesia: US symbols were also targeted in Indonesia, where protesters demanded a boycott of American and British products. In central Java, about 3,000 people protested at Cilacap. Around 2,000 Islamic students held a similar protest in Semarang city. In Yogyakarta, 150 protesters protested outside two Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. In Jakarta, about 200 students demonstrated.
Thailand: Around 20,000 Thai Muslims protested in the southern city of Songkhla, in the largest demonstration held in Thailand against the war. Protesters called for the United Nations to intervene in the conflict. They pledged to support an ongoing boycott of US goods and demanded the Thai government to state its position on the war.
Philippines: About 20 anti-war protesters gathered outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Manila and demanded the boycott of US products.
Nepal: The Nepal Communist Party, United Marxist and Leninist staged an anti-war demonstration in Kathmandu.—AFP