| Leiden: Dr King remembered. Iraq war opposed |
nowar - 18.01.2003 16:52
Peace activists and anti-racists remember Dr Martin Luther King, and oppose Iraq war plans: Leiden, The Netherlands, 18 January; as part of worldwide peace action day, also at Volkel and Rotterdam.
Dr Martin Luther King addresses March on Washington
Peace activists, anti-racists, remember Martin Luther King, oppose Iraq war plans; Leiden, The Netherlands, 18 January
On Saturday 18 January, the Anti War Committee in Leiden, The Netherlands, jointly with local Moroccan organization Moultaqa, held its Dr Martin Luther King memory march, against the plans for war against Iraq, against racism, and for civil rights. It was in solidarity with all people in the world who remember Dr King. It was also to remember the victims of the January 1991 Gulf War. 18 January, in the weekend closest to Martin Luther King Day in the US, was a worldwide day to remember Dr Martin Luther King and of peace action.
The Leiden demonstration included a call to support the decision by the European Social Forum, 6-10 November 2002 in Florence, for an all Europe day of action for peace for the people of Iraq on Saturday 15 February, with demonstrations in all capitals of European countries (including on the Dam, Amsterdam, 1 pm). This 15 February call was also taken up in other continents, like Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Many people from Leiden who would have normally joined the local march decided to go instead to Volkel in the South of The Netherlands for a national peace demonstration.
There was a phone connection from the Leiden demonstration to the people at the Volkel military air base, where peace inspectors looked then for weapons of mass destruction, US nuclear warheads, hidden there (though officially the government does not admit they are there). Simultaneously, there was a peace demonstration at Rotterdam city hall.
A committed crowd gathered at the Leiden Stadhuisplein, the square near the sixteenth century town hall. Reporters from the daily local paper, regional television, and Dutch radio World Service were present.
The first speaker, of the Anti War Committee, reminded the audience that the best way to remember Dr Martin Luther King was to carry on his fight. His fight for peace, civil rights, and anti-racism. We should protest against the Dutch extreme Right profiting from war hysteria by burning an Islamic school in Nijmegen. Racism will not just hurt Muslims, if we don’t fight it.
We should say no to the CIA and their ilk, who nurtured Bin Laden and the Taleban in the first place, getting more powers, damaging civil rights.
Dr Martin Luther King opposed the Vietnam war. He said: 'The greatest purveyor of violence is my own country'. Martin Luther King shows that the struggle against racism and the struggle against war should go hand in hand. Also warmongers and racists go hand in hand. War would be terrible not just for the Iraqi people, but also for poor people all over the world because of its economic consequences.
We should say no to Dutch participation in the war. The government now wants the Dutch tax payers to fork out over five billion euro to buy US Joint Strike Fighter war planes. That is the most expensive military bill in Dutch history. The government wants to force feed pro war policies through Parliament; elections or no elections on 22 January.
If the US and its allies will attack Iraq, then the peace movement in The Netherlands and the world will react. For Leiden this means: on the day of the attack [or the next day, if the attack is during the evening, Dutch time] there will be a demonstration on the Stadhuisplein, 7 p.m. There will also be a big national demonstration in The Netherlands, during the week end about 10 days after the beginning of the attack. See http://www.wereldcrisis.nl
As Anti War Comittee Leiden, we call for:
Peace; stop the war against Iraq
Stop Dutch government support of this war
Stop attacks on civil rights
The next speaker was Ms Lineke Schakenbos, of Vrouwen voor Vrede (Women for Peace), who herself was in Iraq with a peace delegation just before the 1991 Gulf War. She, a nurse, had spoken with her Iraqi colleagues and other peaceful common people, who usually are the ones to suffer from war. She had a big candle, from Iraq twelve years ago, with her, and concluded with a peace poem, translated from Arabic.
The next speaker was Dr Hans Feddema, an anthropologist and ex-member of the Provincial Assembly. He spoke about the legacy of Dr King, and the necessity the oppose war on Iraq now. Then, Marco of the local anarchist collective Eurodusnie spoke on grassroots resistance.
Then, there was a spirited march down the Breestraat, the main shopping street of Leiden. Slogans resounded against its ancient buildings: “Stop the war, peace now”! “War for oil is stupid! (in Dutch: Oorlog oliedom!)“ "Bush, Blair, Balkenende (Dutch Prime Minister), keep your hands off Iraq!” “We Shall Overcome” was sung.
The demonstrators arrived at the destination: the Leiden monument to the anti nazi resistance fighters of World War Two. There, a lady from Amsterdam, Gerda Spijker, read a poem:
Vrede is veel sterker,
Wij staan allen sterk,
Geen oorlog maar vrede
Dat is wel beter werk.
Wij strijden er wel lustig op los,
Anders is de wereld de klos.
(Peace is much stronger,
We are all strong,
Peace, not war
We fight in good spirits,
Else, the world will be ruined).
So, on Saturday 18 January, not only in Rotterdam and Volkel, but also in Leiden, people were active against racism; and for peace and civil rights. In Leiden and elsewhere, the peace actions will go on. On Saturday 15 February there will be in Amsterdam a big peace demonstration: starting 1 pm at Dam Square. On Easter Monday, 21 April, in Amsterdam, there will be a big peace demonstration as well.