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Over 100,000 march in Jakarta JAKARTA - Chanting "America imperialist, number one terrorist!" tens of thousands of protesters in Indonesia marched on the U.S. Embassy Sunday in what appeared to be this nation's largest anti-war demonstration to date. Estimates of the crowd's size ranged from 100,000 to 300,000. Many of the protesters were dressed in traditional Muslim attire and represented the country's largest Islamic groups.
They chanted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great," as they marched down a main Jakarta thoroughfare. Some wore headbands saying, "peace, no war" while others carried banners that read "Bush, Iraq is not your killing field" and "Hang Bush Now". The event was organized by the Indonesian Committee in Solidarity with Iraqi People.
The crowd gathered in front of the British Embassy in central Jakarta early Sunday and marched peacefully to the United Nations office before heading to the U.S. Embassy about 1 1/2 kilometers (a mile) away. Flanked by more than 1,500 police officers, the protesters slowed traffic but otherwise caused no problems. Outside the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy, speaker after speaker demanded that the United States pull out of Iraq and called for U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard to be tried as war criminals.
"Bush is the real evil and the real terrorist," Amien Rais, speaker of Indonesia's top legislative body, told the cheering crowd. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation and the government has been a vocal opponent of the war. Protests have been widespread across the country since the war began but have not replicated the violent demonstrations that followed the Afghanistan war in 2001.
Radical Islamic groups have used the war to launch a boycott of American products, threaten foreigners and recruit Indonesians to fight in Iraq -- campaigns which so far have made little headway in this vast archipelago made up of mostly moderate Muslims. Protesters Sunday said they were opposed to a war that lacked the support of the United Nations and which targeted their fellow Muslims. Many said they were most angry about graphic television images of Iraqi civilians being killed and injured in coalition bombings.
"Can you imagine how a baby like this one was injured in Iraq?" said Fatmah, pointing to her 1-year-old son. "We cannot stand to see the babies suffering and the constant images of war on the television. We feel their suffering." The protests in Jakarta ended with the crowd singing the Indonesian national anthem. Organizers told the crowd to avoid violence.
Smaller protests took place in other parts of the country Sunday, with about 200 people holding a prayer rally in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city on the island of Java.



Posted in Protests @ 30 March 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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