Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 24, 2003
'We want peace,' say 12,000
Anti-war protestors take to the city streets in peaceful protest
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
An estimated 12,000 people took to the streets of downtown Edmonton Feb. 15 to say no to war against Iraq.
The noisy demonstration, one of many held across Canada and around the world, stretched for over five blocks and included ordinary people of every age, from babies in strollers to seniors.
Waving flags and carrying signs like No War On Iraq and Drop Sanctions, Not Bombs, the protesters sang peace songs and shouted antiwar slogans as they headed west along Jasper Avenue and then east on 102nd Avenue toward the Stanley Milner Library. Shouts like "Drop Bush, Not Bombs " and "We Want Peace" could be heard throughout the march.
"I wanted to be able to do something," said protester Naomi Krogman as she pushed a stroller with her six-month-old baby Antonia. " I think war should be the absolute last option. I believe in negotiation and reasonable arguments, but I have not heard any reasonable argument that would convince me as a citizen war is the best option."
Krogman said she decided to take her baby out in minus 10C weather because she realized "silent opposition and prayer" are no longer good enough. "You've got to do something political when it is this close to death for children and innocent people who don't deserve this at all."
Krogman's friend, Jean King, said she hoped the federal government would look at the numbers rallying for peace in Edmonton and around the world and realize they are opposed to war.
"They should realize there is a large percentage of people in this country and around the world that think this war is wrong, that we have no basis right now for going to war against Iraq and that we can't let a big power like the U.S. tell us what we should do," she said. "We each have to make our own individual choice and I'm here to express that choice."
Angel Hamilton, 23, and her brother Dan, 24, attended the rally to show their solidarity with the Iraqi people. "I oppose any imperialistic effort of the United States to impose their ideology and their policies on Iraq," Angel said. "Bush is only interested in the Iraqi oil and is ready to kill thousands of innocent people to control it. We can't allow that."
Dan said the protest opened his eyes. "By being here I realize people do care and don't want this war to happen."
The rally concluded at a park behind the Stanley Milner Library, where the crowd cheered the speakers.
"Mr. Bush, we are not with you in this aggressive, unjustified, militaristic, imperialistic behaviour," said Canadian nationalist Mel Hurtig. "Today, right around the world anti-Americanism is growing, but in Canada it is not anti-Americanism . . . it's anti-George Bush, it's anti-Donald Rumsfeld, it's anti-Pentagon and it's anti-Dick Cheney."
Calling George Bush "the most militaristic, arrogant and hostile American president in recent memory," Hurtig said, "It's not anti-American to agree with Jimmy Carter and with many millions of Americans and with most of the rest of the world that many more arms inspectors and much more inspection time is what is needed."
Usama Al-Shiraida, an Iraqi-Canadian entrepreneur, pleaded with politicians to spare his people. "I know George Bush will not listen but hopefully Jean Chretien will listen," he said. "Lift the sanctions, allow the people to eat, allow the people to live and you will see what the Iraqi people can do."
The Edmonton antiwar rally, organized by the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism, was part of an international day of protest that saw a million people rally in Rome, 750,000 in London and hundreds of thousands in other major European and U.S. cities. In Canada, over 100,000 protested in Montreal and 80,000 in Toronto.