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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Anti-war protesters rally in London
Protesters march through London
The mood of the march was peaceful
Thousands of anti-war protesters have marched through London in a demonstration against the military air strikes on Afghanistan.

The CND-led march from Marble Arch to Trafalgar Square reflected growing concern in some quarters over the US-led bombardment, organisers said.

War is not the answer, you can't fight fire with fire

Darren Johnson,
Green Party
Police said about 20,000 people had taken part in Saturday's demonstration, which followed the sixth night of US air strikes.

Campaigners also staged a march in Glasgow, while demonstrations against the strikes also took place across Western Europe. Earlier, anti-war protests were held in Australia.

At the London march, protesters carried placards bearing messages such as "Socialist Worker. Stop This Bloody War. Fight US/UK imperialism".

Others said: "CND says not in my name" and "CND says peace & justice for all".

The marchers chanted "No war" and "We want peace". They blew whistles and banged on drums. Though noisy the mood was peaceful.

'Indiscriminate' strikes

Nigel Chamberlain, of CND told the BBC that it was vital that people collectively voiced their opposition to the UK Government's support of military strikes.

Christine Moores from South East London
Protesters against the air strikes have held vigils at Downing Street
"We think very strongly that this bombing action that is being supported is counter productive and is breaking up the coalition that has been carefully built in the past.

"And it might well encourage further terrorist acts."

He said there was a substantial minority across the country opposed to this action.

Mr Chamberlain said it was vital to send out a strong message not just to the British government but also to the American government and governments worldwide.

He said the US-led strikes were protracted and indiscriminate, not proportionate, targeted or limited as promised.

"Civilians do die as a result of bombing raids.

Afghan refugees arrive in Pakistan
Six million people are at risk of starvation, says the Green Party
"The refugee crisis is accentuated.

"Tempers are inflamed in the Muslim world against it.

"It is making it much more difficult to pursue the political, diplomatic and economic coalition that was being built.

"We absolutely agree that the perpetrators must be brought to justice."

The London rally was originally planned as part of the International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarisation of Space.

However organisers have turned their attention on the strikes against Afghanistan.

International court

Speakers at the rally included Darren Johnson, leader of the Green group on the Greater London Assembly.

He told the crowds: "There are thousands and thousands of us here today for peace and justice.

"The messages here are very simple - stop the bombing of Afghanistan, end the war now and stop the militarisation of space - scrap the National Missile Defence system."

He said those responsible for the US terror attacks should be brought to justice by legal means in an international court.

"War is not the answer, you can't fight fire with fire. It will only create more bin Ladens."

The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain supported the rally.

Its leader Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui called on community elders and leaders to "channel the disquiet felt by the youth over the war into a peaceful protest campaign".

CND chair Carol Naughton said the demonstration had been "incredible".

"We expected a lot of people but this just shows that there really is a big upsurge of people who are opposed to the conflict in Britain," she said.

The rally was told another major protest would be held on 18 November.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"This demonstration brought together a loose coalition of peace campaigners"
BBC News Online's Andy Tate
followed the march and asked protesters why they believe the war is wrong
CND Chair Carol Naughton
"There are viable alternatives such as economic, political and diplomacy"
See also:

13 Oct 01 | Scotland
Scots protest against Afghan strikes
13 Oct 01 | UK
Protesting for peace
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