INTERNATIONAL

U.K. rally demands end to Iraq war



Hasan Suroor

Protests across the world on invasion anniversary

LONDON: The third anniversary of the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq saw hundreds of Britons take to the streets in London on Saturday demanding an end to the occupation.

Protesters, waving anti-war placards and raising slogans against the continued presence of foreign troops in Iraq, marched through central London in a show of solidarity with war victims and ordinary Iraqis.

Parliament Square, normally out of bounds for protests, wore a festive look as peace activists and people from different walks of life many of whom had come from outside London gathered there in freezing cold.

Amid a sea of placards saying "Freedom for Iraq'' and "Bring back the troops'' the protesters walked past Whitehall and held a rally at Trafalgar Square addressed by prominent peace campaigners, trade union leaders and political figures including Labour Party MPs.

The protest, organised by the Campaign against Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Muslim Association of Britain and Stop the War Coalition, coincided with similar demonstrations in other countries.

Demanding withdrawal of British troops, Lindsey Green of Stop the War Coalition said: "We believe that a peaceful solution to the chaos caused by the illegal war in Iraq will only be possible when the occupying foreign armies have all been removed so that the Iraqi people will be free to decide on their own political future.''

She said the London protest was among the 200 taking place in cities all over the world, including Baghdad and Basra.

Kate Hudson of CND said the British Government must listen to the people and bring the troops back home. She also expressed concern over veiled threats of military intervention in Iran, and said the sort of allegations that were now being made against Iran were used to attack Iraq three years ago.

"The U.S. is making charges about a covert nuclear weapons programme in Iran without presenting any credible evidence," she said.