Saturday, 2 March, 2002
Protesters fear war against Iraq
Thousands of anti-war demonstrators have marched through central London in protest at the threat of military strikes against Iraq. Supporters of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) were addressed by speakers including Tony Benn and Yvonne Ridley, the Sunday Express journalist captured and detained by the Taleban for ten days.
Police estimates put the number attending at 7,500 but organisers say the figure was 20,000. StWC convenor Lindsey Graham said marchers were also protesting against the continued detentions in Cuba at Guantanomo Bay.
"We feel that the war in Afghanistan makes things worse. "It looks like they are going to attack Iraq and we want the British government to know 'you are not doing this in our name' if they go ahead." Ms Graham said the prospect of military action against Iraq would lead to further protest marches being organised around the UK.
"The USA and Britain say Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. "But the real weapons of mass destruction are held by the West who have already used sanctions and bombing against Iraq." Veteran anti-war campaigner Tony Benn called for non-violent resistance against the government in the wake of action against Iraq.
"The moment that bombing begins, we go to where we are and we stop for an hour. "Stop the buses, stop the trains. It's got to be something we take up in every town and village. "Go home today, talk to your schools, raise it in the churches, the temples, the mosques, the synagogues and at work, because we could well be heading for a Third World War because of stupid men who are in government and are governing in our name." The demonstrators gathered in Hyde Park before marching on to Trafalgar Square.