Europe marks second Iraq invasion anniversary

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Today, Saturday the 19th of March, thousands across Europe marked the second anniversary of the US-led war on Iraq with protest marches and rallies for peace.

Anti-war march in London: In London, UK, police said 45,000 people took part in a march following the traditional route; a Hyde Park start, past the US Embassy and finishing in Trafalgar Square. According to organisers, almost 100,000 people took part. There were no reports of violence or unrest at the rally.

In Istanbul, Turkey, about 15,000 people marched to protest against the continued US presence in Iraq.

Athens, Greece, was brought to a standstill by more than 5000 trade unionists who marched to the US Embassy.

Meanwhile, more than 400 miles away from London, in the Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth, about two hundred people also took part in a peace rally. The first annual All Wales Peace Festival (Gwl heddwch a chyfianwnder Cymru gyfan) took place on an unseasonably warm and sunny day for mid-March in the coastal town.

Lasting about an hour, the rally made its way around the streets of the town, making its way to the ruined castle that overlooks the town, where the crowd heard speeches by a number of individuals, including Ken Booth, the head of Aberystwyth University's renowned International Politics department. There was no suggestion of violence at the rally, with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds making up the march.

Police presence at the march was moderately heavy yet restrained, with the police evidently not wishing for a repeat of the scenes two years ago when authorities were taken completely by surprise as protesters brought much of the town to a halt and occupied the council tax offices for two hours.

Attendance at all protests was a mere shadow of that just before the start of the 2003 war, when London saw over a million take to the streets to protest the imminent invasion.


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