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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 03:14 GMT
Anti-war protesters maintain pressure
Students and pupils sit down outside Parliament
''Kids have rights as much as adults"

Anti-war demonstrators continue to mount protests in the UK as military action against Iraq begins.

Hundreds of students and school children mounted a noisy sitdown protest outside the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Even after dark demonstrators continued to make their presence felt in central London.

Earlier police were forced to drag some youngsters out of the road as their banner-waving campaign temporarily brought traffic to a grinding halt.

One man was arrested for breach of the peace in a separate protest outside Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's London home.

Around the country children were abandoning lessons to campaign against military action, with 20 pupils facing suspension from Cape Cornwall School in St Just, Cornwall, for walking to Penzance on Tuesday.

Outside the Houses of Parliament youths chanted loudly "Peace now" and "No war" as black cabs and red London buses jockeyed to pass through the narrow road round Parliament Square.

Ella Jones, Oliver Savidge and Charles Sime, all aged 14, said they had asked for their parents' permission to join around 100 pupils from Pimlico School.

Pupils from Pimlico School
We don't think children are listened to
Ella Jones

She told BBC News Online: "We just want to make sure we do as much as we possibly can to prevent war.

"It is just Tony Blair and George Bush against the rest of the world. None of the public want this, Mr Blair is acting against our will.

"We are a peaceful movement. We are not here to cause a riot, but we don't think children are listened to."

Oliver said: "We got our parents permission to be here, but some people have walked out.

"We think it is right we have our say. Kids have rights as much as adults."

Charles added: "What Saddam is doing is wrong, but it shouldn't be settled by war."

'Against brute force'

Student Kim Schmucker, 22, from Wisconsin, left lectures at the Richmond American International University in London to attend the protest.

She said: "I know people who have missed exams to be here. I don't know how much good this protest is going to do, but at least we can try."

Fellow student Chapman Bell, 22, from Georgia, said: "Hopefully this will make them see that people are for a more peaceful solution and against brute force."

The Stop the War Coalition says hundreds of thousands of anti-war campaigners will pound the streets of London in a mass protest against war on Iraq this weekend.

The group, which has organised the march with the Muslim Association of Britain and CND, is also calling on workers to down tools as soon as war breaks out.


Nick Buxton, organising the protest outside Mr Straw's house, said: "We got the message across that the war is going to have a very huge humanitarian impact and people are angry about this war."

Protesters outside Parliament on Tuesday
We must balance freedom of expression against the risk of serious disorder
Chief Inspector Mick Mills
Leicestershire Police

The protesters blocked roads near Mr Straw's house and staged a "die in", saying they had delayed his departure to work by half an hour.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said one person had been arrested for breach of the peace at about 0700 GMT.

"There was some disturbance and noise and one person was arrested, but there was no major riot," he said.

Stop The War Coalition chairman Andrew Murray said British troops had never been sent into action with so little public support behind them.

"It is now the settled view of the British people that this war is unnecessary and we do not wish our troops to be involved in such action," he said.

The BBC's Andrew Marr
"MPs accept that the decision time is over"

Veto powers reject US ultimatum
17 Mar 03 |  Middle East
Protesters urge walk-outs
17 Mar 03 |  Politics

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