Antiwar Demos Reports from Portugal, Germany, Egypt and Tunisia
Portugal: February 15 rally - no support for war, with or without UN resolution!
Portugal is one of the countries where opposition to the war against Iraq is highest. All the polls show that the anti-war feeling is shared by about 80% of the population. Nevertheless, the right wing government has declared its agreement with the Bush administration’s aims in the present crisis. They will support the American war with or without United Nations resolutions. It is clear that one of the main reasons for this blind support has been the prime minister’s vanity, as he tries to get into the limelight of the CNN, BBC or Euro News cameramen. After all, such a small country as Portugal doesn’t have that many chances of getting everyone’s attention. Now, it has achieved this and for the worst possible reason.
Nevertheless the mood of the common people is clearly one of opposition to the imperialist aggression. Everyone realises that it’s a war for oil, that the US administration it trying to take control of the world and that their policy is “do what we wish or suffer”. It’s important to point out that the February 15 anti-war march came just one week after a big demonstration against anti-working class policies of the government, which gathered more than 50,000 workers. The government is trying to unload the burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the workers. It was able to bribe the leaders of the UGT who now agree with the revision of the labour legislation - a revision that is a step backwards concerning the workers’ rights. But the mood is a militant one and there is a spirit of resistance. The incompetence of the government together with the capitalist crisis have led to a fall in GDP in the last quarter of 2002 - which means that the country is now de facto in recession. Unemployment has risen sharply - everyday 500 workers lose their jobs - and in fact, at the end of last year, the figure for unemployment had surpassed the worst previsions the government had made for the whole year put together!
There’s a mood of anger among the common people. The government has frozen wages and is making all sorts of attacks in every field: from education to health, from taxes to pensions. No dirty deals with the trade union leaders will be able to stop the protests: they are here to stay!
One week after the biggest march of the last few years we had a marvellous anti-war demonstration on February 15. But it was not just anti-war, it was also anti-government! There were marches all over the country and in Lisbon alone 100,000 people protested against the war, filling Plaza Rossio - in the heart of the city. One important thing that we have to underline concerning the demonstrations was that the protest was against the war, with or without the United Nations’ approval! Unfortunately the Socialist Party did not support the demonstration because they think that a UN resolution war becomes acceptable, as if UN resolutions were able to transform bullets into flour and tanks in tractors! But this didn’t stop the people from gather in protest. Even Mario Soares - the historical founder of the Socialist Party - attended and gave a speech to the crowd.
The Portuguese working class doesn’t support the American adventure. They correctly see that the US government is the biggest threat to world peace. The growing crisis and the more than probable war will spur even more the class movement. This is just the beginning because as one banner put it: “Peace among the peoples, war on capital”! Our enemies have declared war on us, the working class and youth of the world, We shall give them a fight to remember.
Rui Faustino, Lisbon.
Anti-War-Demonstration in Leer, Germany
The majority of the Germans oppose George W. Bush's plans to launch a war on Iraq. More than 500,000 people turned out in Berlin, 50,000 in Stuttgart and several thousand more in different other towns.
In Leer, a small town in East Frisia, not far from the Dutch border, a small group of socialists, communists, Attac-members and pacifists, among them a lot of young people, met at the beginning of December to discuss what could be done locally. We decided to hand out leaflets first to inform people why we oppose the Bush administration's plans. The response in the streets was surprisingly positive so we planned for a large demonstration on February 15. Banners were made, leaflets written and copied, the local newspapers informed and two weeks before the demonstration the local branch of the DGB (German Trade Union Association) and the metal workers union (IG Metall) joined us, helped to distribut our leaflets and mobilized their members. Shortly before February 15, Greenpeace, the Socialdemocrats and the Green Party also called upon to take part in the demonstration.
On February 15 more than 1500 people rallied in front of the Leer barracks where the march started. Although it was terribly cold, lots of people, many of whom had never demonstrated on the streets before, took part in the 1-mile-demonstration into the town centre. Lots of them carried flags and banners which showed their opposition to the US-aggression. In the town centre members of the anti-war committee, union leaders, an Iraqi refugee and her little son and a protestant priest gave speeches against the forthcoming war. Although most of the speakers attacked the Bush administration's plans, the German government was also criticized, as the American and British troops are still allowed to use German airports and harbours to send their military equipment to the Gulf region. One speaker also reminded the audience that it was the German government that supported the war against Yugoslavia in 1999 and he pointed out that the former Minister of Defense, Scharping, had lied several times to the public to justify the German participation in that war four years ago.
The demonstration was a high point, but the ant-war committee will carry on with its fight against the war on Iraq. On Day X (the day when the American attacks begin) there will be a demonstration in the town centre of Leer and we hope that lots of people will turn up again then.
No blood for oil!
With comradely regards,
February 21, 2003.
Anti-war activists assaulted and arrested in Egypt and Tunisia
We have received this message and are publishing it to make workers and youth around the world aware of how reactionary Arab regimes treat their own people who are protesting against the imperialist war plans against Iraq.
Violent assault and arrests of demonstrators occurred in Egypt and Tunisia during and prior to the peaceful demonstrations against a possible war in Iraq, on Sunday 16, 2003. At a time when demonstrators throughout the world gathered peacefully to express their refusal of a war against Iraq, the Egyptian and Tunisian authorities violated the right to demonstrate and to peaceful assembly by using disproportionate force against peaceful demonstrators, and arresting them. On February 16, 2003, in Sfax, an industrial town situated 270 km from Tunis, a demonstration against the war in Iraq organised by several trade unions, NGOs and opposition parties was violently dispersed by police forces. Several hundred people gathered in the center of Sfax to show their solidarity with the people of Iraq and their refusal of war. The police brutally charged the demonstrators, violently hitting them over the head with police batons. Over 20 people were injured and had to be hospitalised. Six people are said to be very seriously injured, and the police have also arrested a dozen demonstrators.
Already in December, a demonstration of solidarity with the Iraqi people and against the war had been banned in Tunis for "reasons of security". In Egypt, over the last weeks, the authorities have used Egypt's state of emergency law to administratively detain people who participated in a demonstration against a war in Iraq. Moreover, it seems that several people had been detained "preventively" to stop them from participating in the February 15 demonstrations. During the demonstration on Sunday 16,at least 5 more people were arrested and several more were injured. Already, on January 18th, the State Security Police had arrested 11 alleged members of the Egyptian People's Committee for Solidarity with the Palestinian Uprising who had demonstrated against a war against Iraq, under the charges of disrupting public order. Most of these demonstrators are still in detention awaiting trial at the prison of Tora. These arrests were followed by other detentions of antiwar activists in February 2003, including journalist Ibrahim Al-Sahary and film producer Sabri al Ammak. We condemn the Eyptian authorities for the use of the state of emergency Law, which enables them to suspend basic civil liberties and to suppress freedom of expression. We also fear for the physical integrity of those detained. In the light of the events in both Tunisia and Egypt, we call upon the authorities of these two countries to:
- Put an end to all forms of harassment against demonstrators and activists, who are exercising their legitimate right to collective peaceful expression.
- Release the people detained and guarantee their physical integrity.
- Drop the charges against them, which are arbitrary since they sanction the exercise of freedom of expression and demonstration.
- Respect the freedoms of expression, of opinion and demonstration, as guaranteed by international instruments to which Egypt and Tunisia are party, and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Same Concern… Same Oppression… Same Struggle!
The Egyptian national groups struggling against the war on the Iraqi people (including representatives of popular committees, syndicates and trade unions, political parties, NGOs and independent citizens) have been informed regarding the violent police oppression that befell Tunisian militants against the American War on the Iraqi people, upon their organization of a peaceful protest in the city of Sfax to express their solidarity with the Iraqi people and their objection to the imperialist war planned by the US and its allies against Iraq, realizing that this war will result in massive destruction and devastation for the peoples of the region. Tunisian militants have been exposed to a vicious police violence that resulted in the injury of tens of citizens and hospital admission of about 15 of them, whose conditions ranged between heart crises, head injuries and fractured shoulders and ribs. 3000 of the people of Sfax had started a march of protest responding to a call by the Sfax branch of the Tunisian General Trade Union. Security forces did not allow the demo to walk more than a few meters before it launched its attack and besieged the whole city of Sfax. At a time when Egyptian antiwar militants are themselves exposed to police oppression and detention, we can only stress our absolute and unconditional support and solidarity with our Tunisian friends. We also express our protest regarding the oppressive policies of the Tunisian regime towards the Tunisian antiwar movement and demand that all Arab regimes, without exception, take their hands off the Arab peoples who could not possibly be less concerned than all people of the world with expressing their solidarity with the Iraqi people. Our militant salutations of solidarity go to the women and men involved in the Tunisian antiwar movement.
Together against oppression!
Together against the war!
Together for a world of freedom, justice and peace!
Egyptian Antiwar Activists
17 February 2003
Signatories: Ibrahim el Sahari (the first detainee to be released), Youssef Chahine (film director), Ahmed Khalifa (Journalist), Ahmed Hassan (Lawyer), Ahmed Seif El Islam (lawyer), Ahmed Amer (journalist), Youssef Darwiche (lawyer), Ashraf Wagdy (doctor), Amina Rashir (university professor), Ayman Makram (journalsit), Ihab Mohamed (student), Gamal Abdel Aziz (lawyer), Gamal Abdel Fattah (Pharmacist), Jihan Soliman (TV broadcaster), Hussein Abdel Razek (journalist, The leftist party), Farida El Nakkash (journalsit, The leftist party), Hamdi El Hosseini (journalist), Hamdi Hussein (trade unionist), Hamdi Ramadan (citizen), Hamdeen Sabahi( journalist, MP), Khaled Gharib (journalist), Khaled Youssef (Film maker), Dina Gamil (journalist), Dina Heshmat (journalist), Rehab El Shazli (journalist), Rahma Refaat (lawyer, CTUWS), Rasha Azab Ahmed (Student), Randa Abdel Hamid (Housewife), Ziad El Eleimi (lawyer), Samer Soliman (journalist), Soad El Gindi (Housewife), Suzan Fayad (doctor, El Nadim), Sayed Bahrawi (University Professor), Sabri El Shawari (citizen), Salah Adly (Communist), Adel El Mashad (Engineer), Adel Lotfi (Researcher), Atef Shahat (lawyer), Aida Seif El Dawla (University Professor), Abdel Salam Shahine (engineer), Abdel Aziz El Husseini (engineer), Abdel Ghaffar Maghawri (Student), Abdallah Mansour (doctor, El Nadim), Abdel Magid Abdel Moneim (citizen), Abdel Mohsen Hamouda (engineer), Abdel Nabi Tahiu (journalist), Azza Khalil (researcher), Emad Mubarak (lawyer), Emad Motaueh (writer), Amr Mohamed Abdel Salam (Student), ghada Hassan Fadel (doctor), Fatma El Rashidi (journalist), Farida El Nakkash (journalist), Karem Yehia Sayed (journalist), Karima Mohamed Ali (pharmacist), Kamal Abbas (trade unionist, ctuws), Kamal Khalil (engineer), Lamis Nakkash (University professor), Lamiaa Mohamed (student), Laila Soueif (university professor), Magda Adly (doctor, El Nadim), Maysa Hafez (journalist) Magdi Helmi (journalist), Mohamed El Baali (journalist), Mohamed Baraka (journalist), Mohamed Abdel Kaddus (journalist), Mohamed Agati (researcher), Mohamed Ali Metwali (student), Mohamed Haroun (journalist), Mahmoud Ali Mahmoud (citizen), Mohamed Fouad Mahmoud (accountant), Mostafa Bassiouni (journalist), Mostafa Hamdi Mohamed (student), Mona Abdel Rahman (journalist), Mona Ezzat (journalist), Nada Kassas (journalist), Nefissa Hassan El Dessouki (researcher), Hala Shukrallah (researcher), Hala Kamal (university professor), Hani Shukrallah (journalist), Heba Helmi (teacher), Heba Adel (citizen), Hisham Yunis (journalist), Wael Gamal (journalist), Wael Khalil (engineer), Yehia Fikry (engineer).
See other reports: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4.
The masses are on the march! Millions demonstrate against the war worldwide by Alan Woods and Fred Weston (February18,2003)
[Back to In Defence of Marxism] [Back to Middle East] [Back to "War on Terror"]