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Big peace demonstration Amsterdam 22/3
stop the war - 22.03.2003 21:07

Many demonstrators opposing George W. Bush’s war had come to Amsterdam: on 15 February, it had been 80.000-100.000 according to organizers; now, on 22 March, 120.000.

Demonstrators for peace near Dam, Amsterdam; photo 15 February
Demonstrators for peace near Dam, Amsterdam; photo 15 February

Big peace demonstration in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

On Saturday 22 March, people gathered for one of many demonstrations all over the world for peace for the Iraqi people, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This was on Dam square, in the city centre. Many demonstrators opposing George W. Bush’s war had come: on 15 February, it had been 80.000-100.000 according to organizers; now, on 22 March, 120.000. While 15 February had been prepared for months as Dutch part of a worldwide movement called for by the European and World Social Forums and many others: 22 March was a short term improvisation which still showed a big increase in the peace movement.

The big Dam square was not big enough for them. Photo’s, videos, etc. of the Amsterdam demonstration are at:
 http://www.indymedia.nl/nl/2003/03/10544.shtml

At the same time, there were demonstrations on all continents. See  http://www.indymedia.org

Already at 12, one hour before the official beginning, people crowded before the stage of the red and yellow truck of Theaterstraat theatre company. Then, members of the Dutch Socialist Party had already run out of rattles to hand out to fellow demonstrators, though they still had some red whistles. Greenpeace handed out white squares, to symbolize being squarely pro peace. A lady of South African origin dressed up like a butterfly for peace. Johan Vlemmix, party leader of the small Dutch Party of the Future, handed out small paper blue peace flags with white doves on them ( a bigger one of these is with the voluntary human shields in Baghdad).

Signs said: Oorlog oliedom (War for oil is stupid). Not one man, not one woman, not one cent, for the war. Stop Dutch participation in the war. No Saddam, Bush, Dutch government support for war. Bush, sex is the answer for your frustations. United Rogue States of America. Stop war for oil and money. Against imperialism, for international friendship. There were green and black Greenpeace banners; symbols of anarchist punk rock band Crass; red and black anarchist flags; red flags of the New Communist Party of The Netherlands, with white letters; white flags with red tomatoes of the Socialist Party; flags of Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq, Palestine, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Turkey, Kurdistan, the Moluccas. Leaflets changed hands, like from For Mother Earth from Belgium; Turkish women from Amsterdam, Iraqi refugees, Moluccans, International Socialists. There were people from all regions of The Netherlands, and of many nationalities, including African, African American, Filipino and Chilean.

As the first demonstrators arrived, they heard music by.Femke and Matty (guitar and signing). At 12.05, Jerrique succeeded them on stage, singing Imagine by John Lennon. Like the others he was announced by Ms Daniel de Jong, of the Dutch Guatemala Committee. At 12.10, there was Paul Stocker’s jazz quartet (drums, bass, 2 saxophones). At 12.25: Clemens (singer).

At 12.30, Femke came back for an anti war song. After her, Wim&Dik (guitar, flute, and vocals) sang Give peace a chance. And “”Mr. President. Sleep well”, an antiwar song originally by famous Dutch singer Boudewijn de Groot.

At 12.40 a pro peace speech by comedian Vincent Bijlo.
At 12.50 Judith came on stage. This singer had a big charts hit. However, her next song turned out to be pro peace, and promptly her record corporation dumped her. It is now available for free download at her web site.

13.00 was the official beginning of the demonstration. Ms Saskia Kouwenberg welcomed all demonstrators on behalf of the organizers, the Platform “tegen de 'Nieuwe Oorlog'” (against the New War). Iraqi refugee poet Ali al Bezazz read poems in Dutch.
At 13.05, Roman Catholic Bishop Van Luyn, chair of Pax Christi The Netherlands, spoke.
Before the march started, at 13.10, there was Harry Loco (guitar and vocals).

The demonstration went from the Dam to: Paleisstraat, Rozengracht, Marnixstraat, Leidseplein, Museumplein. The demonstration was so big that as the first demonstrators had arrived long ago on the Museumplein, many people could still not depart from the Dam, the starting point. Many people encouraged the demonstrators from their homes’ windows, by honking cars’ horns, etc.

At the Museumplein, there was a big stage, hosted by Phaidra Johanis.
First, there was music by Mohammad Beg. Then, a speech by Sylvia Borren. After her, Huub Oosterhuis spoke. Then came Ali B (rap and hip hop).

To loud applause, Faisal Nasser, of the Iraqi Platform in The Netherlands, denounced the war and its terrible effects on the Iraqi people. He stated that Saddam Hussein should quit. However, war was absolutely the wrong way to bring that about.

A representative of an Iranian women refugees organization said that George W. Bush violated international law, like Adolf Hitler in 1938. As Franco and Mussolini had supported Hitler during the Second World War, the present prime ministers of Spain and Italy, Aznar and Berlusconi, supported Bush.

The singer Erik from Heerlen in the Southern Netherlands, sang the peace song “War”, originally by Sly and the Family Stone. The Iraqi refugee poet Naji Rahim denounced George W. Bush as a war criminal, and read poems in Dutch.

Then, the Octopedians played jazz. When their founder, Herman de Wit, was still alive in the 1980s, they had played at the big demonstrations against US cruise missiles in The Netherlands, also on the Museumplein.

Then, C-Mon&Kypski played music.
Mohammed Rabbae, elderman of Leiden city, denounced Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende for political (though officially not military) support for Bush. He said Balkenende behaved like a lap dog of George W. Bush, and was too small for The Netherlands. He should become Prime Minister of Madurodam (a miniature city for tourists in The Hague); not The Netherlands. One demonstrator depicted Balkenende on a sign as a donkey (“balk” means “to bray” like a donkey, in Dutch). Another demonstrator had made a sign: “God: I feel so ashamed about Balkenende’s [Christian Democrat] party.”

After music by famous Dutch cabaret artist Freek de Jonge and The Nits, the demonstration was concluded. The organizers called on everyone to continue the peace actions.

See also the websites:

 http://www.vredessite.nl
 http://www.omslag.nl
 http://www.indymedia.nl

The national Dutch coalition against the “new war” can be reached at  o43@kerkenvrede.nl.
Web site:  http://www.wereldcrisis.nl
 

Lees meer over: wereldcrisis

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