Demonstration in Amsterdam: Break with Bush!
Demonstration in Amsterdam: Break with Bush!
On and around Museumplein, one of Amsterdam's main squares, around 2,000 people gathered today to demand that the Netherlands break with the aggressive war policy of US President George W. Bush. An end must be put to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the human rights abuses which characterise the so-called 'war on terror' and to any question of a 'preventive' or 'pre-emptive' attack on Iran, the demonstrators urged. Many members of the SP were amongst those present, including Member of Parliament and foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel, who called on the government to change course.
“Stop the war - stop the spiral of violence”
Three years after the attack on Iraq the demonstrators were anxious to call attention to the tens of thousands of civilian victims who have been killed or mutilated since the beginning of their country's occupation by the United States. The peoples of Iraq and also Afghanistan are suffering as a result of the counterproductive manner in which the Americans are employing their military might in pursuance of what they call the 'war on terror'. Estimates of the numbers of innocent victims who have died vary between 30,000 and 100,000. One important reason why reliable figures are lacking is that the US refuses to publish the number of civilian dead in the two countries because 'this information could damage (their) position'.
The gathering began at around one o'clock with speakers and music. At two o'clock the march set off, passing through the city centre before returning to Museumplein where, at half-past-three, the victims of the two wars were commemorated.
Harry van Bommel addresses the demonstrators
Addressing the crowd, Harry van Bommel said: "We are here today because we find the American approach and Dutch support for it wrong and dangerous. Under Bush's leadership an illegal war of aggression is being conducted on the grounds that Iraq has at its disposal weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and poses an acute danger to world peace. This turns out to be wholly untrue. Meanwhile the US has occupied Iraq and driven it into a terrible spiral of violence. We hear more and more talk of civil war and the different groups in the population are being set at each others' throats by various parties. The fuse has been lit and put to the powder, and yet the Netherlands continues blindly to support these disastrous policies. This is incomprehensible, irresponsible and unacceptable."
The West's Afghanistan policy must also, Mr van Bommel argued, be changed. He shared the concerns of the soldiers' union and of many parents of young military personnel over the risks they will be running in Afghanistan. "Armed resistance in Afghanistan is growing, principally as a reaction to the behaviour of the US and its 'coalition of the willing' within the country, but also in reaction to the occupations of Iraq and Palestine. Peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere will only be possible when these occupations are ended. The sending of Dutch troops to Afghanistan contributes nothing to peace, but simply makes the Netherlands into part of the problem."
Millions of people in Iran are holding their breath now that Bush has threatened to attack their country. The US and its allies are following a trajectory of escalation that many suspect closely resembles the runup to the invasion of Iraq. 'Weapons of mass destruction' have become 'nuclear weapons'. The real motives behind this warmongering have nothing to do with nuclear weapons or with democratisation, and everything with the thirst for oil and the hunger for hegemony in the world. Van Bommel went on to say that he “would be very pleased to see another regime in Iran and as far as I'm concerned no country should have nuclear weapons, so Iran should not have them. But the course that the US now wants to set will lead only to still more and greater catastrophes. Every military threat gives the Iranian regime an excuse to crack down on the movement for democracy. Disgust in Middle Eastern and other Islamic countries will only be increased and hatred between peoples strengthened. For this reason I think that Al Qaida and its fellow terrorist groups would like to see nothing more than an American attack on Iran. For heaven's sake let us follow a more intelligent course of action than this."