Sunday, February 16
People power takes to the world's streets
Paul Harris, John Aglionby in Jakarta, Hannah Cleaver in Berlin and Sophie Arie in Rome,The Observer, February 16, 2003
It started in New Zealand as 10,000 people marched through Auckland and Wellington, then swept over Asia, Africa and Europe. By last night protesters were also on the move in North and South America as a day of protest not seen since the era of the Vietnam War swept the world.
Millions marched through more than 300 cities in over 60 countries. Their banners displayed common sentiments of blaming America, Britain and the oil industry for planning war. Some protests were huge, with more than a million people turning out in London and Rome.
Hundreds of thousands joined in marches in 20 French cities, with the biggest crowd marching to the Place de la Bastille in Paris. In Toulouse, marchers walked in the cold winter sunshine under banners reading, 'No blood in the oil', and 'No to war for petrol'.
Tens of thousands also gathered in Berlin, including a former British soldier. Martin Bentley, 47, bearer of the Military Medal for bravery, was with his two daughters aged nine and 14. Bentley, who served in the British Army for 17 years, seeing action in Cyprus, the Falklands and Northern Ireland, said: 'I am not against military intervention where it is justified, but there is no reason for this at all.'
In Italy organisers said more than a million people marched through Rome. Rainbow-coloured peace flags hung from the walls of the Colosseum. [...]