Copenhagen: 30,000 march past US and British embassies
a WSWS reporting team
17 February 2003
The demonstration in the Danish capital of Copenhagen was attended in sub-zero temperatures by some 30,000 people, dwarfing last autumn’s antiwar demonstration, which involved 2,500 protesters.
Participants came from all walks of life and every age group. The demonstration began with a rally outside the US Embassy in Dag Hammerskjolds Alle, then marched past the nearby British Embassy to a second rally outside the Danish parliament in Christianborg.
A large number of immigrant organizations participated, with Turkish, Palestinian, Kurdish and Iraqi groups displaying banners against the war. Numerous left, radical and anarchist groups were also present, but most of those marching were clearly not politically affiliated. No trade unions banners appeared to be present.
Speakers included Holger K. Nielsen of the Socialist Peoples Party, Muslim speaker Sherin Khankan, Lisbeth Schmidt Jesperson of the International Socialists, Lina Ghani of the Iraqi Communist Party, Lousia Vang Jensen, a high school student, and Soren Sondergaard, a member of the Danish parliament from the Red Greens. Several artists also spoke.
The team from the World Socialist Web Site distributed hundreds of leaflets in English and German, all of which were taken eagerly. On many occasions, people queued to take leaflets. It was noticeable that very few political groups had gone to the trouble to prepare statements for the protest.
The WSWS team interviewed a number of people involved in organising the protest and many demonstrators. Several stated that the real discussion on how to stop war was yet to begin, and they were looking for a forum for this to take place. Within the broad opposition to war against Iraq could be found a range of opinions, from those opposed to war at all costs, to supporters of the United Nations, to those looking to the European powers to hold back the US.
Many demonstrators understood that this was a global protest as much against social inequality as against war. Many recognised the extent of the isolation of the Bush and Blair governments, and also the Danish government of Fogh Rasmussen.
People expressed great appreciation of the many millions of Americans who are opposed to war.
Erlingskow, a male nurse, said, “I think the politicians will be surprised tomorrow when they realise that people are not backing what they thought they were backing. The Vietnam demonstrations occurred during the war. This is before the war has even started.
“If they look into the future they really have to think about what they are doing. I think there is a hidden agenda. All the military people are running this stuff, but when you can mobilise so many people now, there will be many more if they go to war.”
Baage, a worker in his twenties, said, “I have not joined a demonstration since I was a child. This is the first in 15 years. I think that it should be possible to solve conflicts without arms, and this war will add fuel to a fire caused by differences between the rich and poor parts of the world. I think you have to look at this conflict as something that has grown out of inequality.”