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Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 00:35 GMT 01:35 UK
Washington protest at bank meeting
Anarchist cheerleaders
Demonstrations involved a broad range of issues

Protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund brought thousands of demonstrators to the streets of Washington on Saturday.

Police presence was heavy with a total of 3,000 officiers, including reinforcements being brought in from around the country.

The protests focussed on the international financial institutions, as finance ministers from the world's wealthiest countries held top-level meetings.

But many came to protest against possible military action in Iraq.

More than 600 protesters were arrested on Friday, but Saturday's protest passed without incident.

Anti-war message

The anti-globalisation movement has always been one with a broad range of issues.

And demonstrators continued to call for an end to World Bank policies that they say contribute to environmental destruction and the exploitation of workers in developing countries.

Protester
Some protesters feel alienated from decision-making in Washington
The marchers also focussed on water privatisation projects, that they say are an example of the people over profits priorities of the World Bank, IMF and global capitalism.

Pacifist anti-war messages have always been a part of the demonstrations, but this year with the expectation of US military action against Iraq, they played a much more central role in the protests.

Hani is from Syria. He came out to protest against possible military action against Iraq.

"There is no reason for them to attack Iraq. After 12 years of sanctions and millions of children dying, right now because of their greed they want to move on Iraq," he said.

For many years, the United States has labelled Syria a state sponsor of terrorism, and Hani says that the government does support radical Palestinian groups.

But in the Middle East, such groups are seen as freedom fighters and not terrorists.

However, he believes that the United States has also supported terrorists, including the mujahideen in Afghanistan, who fought against the Soviets in the 1980s.

Osama bin Laden fought with the mujahideen, which the United States would have viewed as freedom fighters in their battle against the Soviets.

George Bush criticised

Lisa from Manhattan carried a banner that read "Another US Citizen against US foreign policy".

police
Police presence was heavy
She feels alienated from the political process in the US and refers to George Bush's election as a coup.

She was left feeling that her vote did not count. "I feel completely disempowered by the voting process."

She sees profit driving the policies of the World Bank and the foreign policy of the United States.

"If there wasn't oil in (the Middle East), we would just ignore that part of the world," she said.

As the protest made its way from near the Washington Monument past the White House, demonstrators chanted slogans critical of President George W Bush.

"George Bush, we know you. Your daddy was a killer too!"

One protester carried a sign with the slogan "pre-emptive massacre," a reference to the call by the Bush administration for pre-emptive military action against Iraq.



Developing countries

World economy
See also:

28 Sep 02 | Business
27 Sep 02 | Americas
28 Sep 02 | Business
27 Sep 02 | Americas
27 Sep 02 | Business
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