Peace Watch
February 12, 2003
Peace Movement Growing Fast In U.K. - Huge Turnout Expected In London Next Week

Antiwar protesters rally to cause
By By Burhan Wazir for The Observer.


If half a million people pour on to the streets of
London next week to protest about the prospect
of war in Iraq, as many are now predicting, John
Rees will have reason to be pleased with himself.
He is among a tiny handful of people behind one
of the most rapidly growing and widely based protest
movements to emerge in Britain since the war...

Over the past 18 months, the coalition, chaired
by Andrew Murray, a former journalist and trade
union official, has established itself at the forefront
of the anti-war movement in the UK. Each week the
organisation gathers people at small town hall
meetings, churches and mosques throughout Britain.
People have, for the most part, then organised
themselves. A snowball effect has resulted. Nearly
200 coaches have been booked to ferry supporters
into the capital.

As well as emails, organisers have used text
messaging, professionally designed adverts and
computer banking techniques to raise cash. 'The
volume of emails - 1,000 a day - is particularly
difficult to keep up with,' said Rees.

So too is the lack of experience of many of the
would-be marchers. 'Many people have never
attended a march before. They have no idea of
what to do. So they organise themselves slowly.
Whereas before five people were turning
up at these small meetings, these days it's closer
to 100.'

Here is the entire text of the article in case the link goes bad:


http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,891988,00.html

Observer February 9, 2003

Antiwar protesters rally to cause

By Burhan Wazir

If half a million people pour on to the streets of London next week to
protest about the prospect of war in Iraq, as many are now predicting, John
Rees will have reason to be pleased with himself. He is among a tiny handful
of people behind one of the most rapidly growing and widely based protest
movements to emerge in Britain since the war.

Rees is a key organiser behind the Stop The War Coalition. As he sits and
mass-emails the coalition's daily information updates at the organisation's
Brick Lane headquarters, he explains its workings. Email addresses are
passed on to like-minded groups and activists who have donated around 100
each to the organisation's advertisements and fliers. Mass mail-outs are
then sent out to attract support, disseminate information and rebuke what is
considered propaganda.

Over the past 18 months, the coalition, chaired by Andrew Murray, a former
journalist and trade union official, has established itself at the forefront
of the anti-war movement in the UK. Each week the organisation gathers
people at small town hall meetings, churches and mosques throughout Britain.
People have, for the most part, then organised themselves. A snowball effect
has resulted. Nearly 200 coaches have been booked to ferry supporters into
the capital.

As well as emails, organisers have used text messaging, professionally
designed adverts and computer banking techniques to raise cash. 'The volume
of emails - 1,000 a day - is particularly difficult to keep up with,' said
Rees.

So too is the lack of experience of many of the would-be marchers. 'Many
people have never attended a march before. They have no idea of what to do.
So they organise themselves slowly. Whereas before five people were turning
up at these small meetings, these days it's closer to 100.'

Many attending the rally are political debutantes who have been persuaded
after seeing the organisation's full-page adverts in newspapers. Ruth
Linnett, 27, an actress from Mitcham, has never attended a rally before.

'There are quite a few issues I have felt strongly about in the past,' she
said. 'A number of my friends are also going on the march. This is something
that could have implications for all of us for the rest of our lives.'

Aura Ghanieri, 19, studying in London, was born on Long Island, New York.
She has never attended a rally before. 'I want to help the cause,' she said.
'I hope I will be able to stop this war. This is unjust, immoral and
illegal. As for the fresh evidence last week: I didn't believe any of it. It
was all fuzzy pictures and bad videos.'

Those marching next Saturday span all ages and social backgrounds. Dan
Goldwater, 13, said he was persuaded to join the march by talking to his
schoolfriends. 'I'm strongly against the war, and I would like to
demonstrate that. My friends and I think that the inspectors need more time.
All countries should be disarmed, and that includes America and Britain.'

As with any anti-war collation, STW has attracted supporting groups from all
walks of British life. The Liverpool Dockers Shop Stewards Committee, the
Arab Organisation of Human Rights, the Black Racial Attack Independent
Network, the British Humanist Association, Globalise Resistance, the London
Council of Mosques, Roman Catholics and Church of England groups are all
represented. Despite differences in emphasis, the organisers are confident
that marchers will be united behind one main goal, to stop the war

As with any march of this nature, the police have made some extensive
preparations. Around 1,300 officers will be out in force on the day, backed
up by helicopters with cameras and CCTVs. 'The main concerns is for this
march to pass off safely and without any trouble. The organisers have been
very cooperative,' said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter.

Commentators believe the march has all the prospects of becoming a pivotal
moment in the run-up to any war on Iraq.

Eric Hobsbawm, the historian and writer, told The Observer: 'Next week's
march very much goes against the theory that people are not interested in
politics anymore. Of course, you cannot expect the march to achieve anything
such as a change of policy but with an obviously large turn-out expected,
most people will be very encouraged. It will show them that popular protest
is very much alive.'

Posted by Lisa at February 12, 2003 10:58 AM | TrackBack
Me A to Z (A Work In Progress)