Friday, Mar 21, 2003
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Among the earliest to voice their protest were women from 35 countries who teamed up with women's activists in the city to lay a surprise siege on the American Centre on Kasturba Gandhi Marg. Besides shouting slogans against the U.S., they urged United Nations members to use their power to carry out the emergency application of Resolution 377 to convene the General Assembly and halt the war.
In Delhi, for the fourth international meeting of the World March, the women activists led by the All India Democratic Women's Association gave police the slip and managed to converge outside the American Centre despite a tight cordon. Holding anti-American placards, they rejected the American rationale for the war with slogans like ``No Blood for Oil''.
With the security cordon around the American Embassy being particularly tight, much of the ire of Delhi'tes was voiced outside the American Centre which was witness to more protests with activists of the CPI-ML (New Democracy) staging a demonstration outside the premises later in the afternoon.
Sloganeering apart, they burnt an effigy of the U.S. President, George W. Bush, and called for a boycott of American and British goods. Further, they called for the declaration of Mr. Bush and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as ``war criminals''.
While some groups including the Socialist Unity Centre of India came out on to the streets in protest, others voiced their angst over the unilateral action against Iraq with statements.
In his statement, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, described the American action as an attack on Islam and humanity. With this attack, he said, America had proved that it did not care for international laws, the U.N. charter or international public opinion.
Now that military action has begun, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today urged all warring parties to abide by the rules and principles of international humanitarian law. In a statement, the Regional Delegation of ICRC in New Delhi reminded all States party to the Geneva Conventions of their obligation to not only respect but also ensure respect for international humanitarian law whose main purpose is to minimise the effects of war.
Among the student organisations which issued statements against the action were the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO). The DYFI trained its guns not only on the U.S. for declaring a unilateral war on Iraq but also the Indian Government for ''refusing to take a firm and categorical position'' against America.
For its part, the SFI likened the U.S. to pre-Second World War Germany for ignoring world fora and international opinion in the pursuit of its narrow goal. And, SIO while appreciating India's stance on the issue urged the Indian Government to play a more decisive role in bringing hostilities to an early end.
Other organisations which came out with statements of protest included the All India Anti-Imperialist Forum, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation, the All India Peoples Resistance Forum, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha and the All India Kisan Sabha.
And, if what many of these statements had to say is anything to go by, the chorus of protests will continue if not stepped up in the coming days with many groups announcing plans to organise demonstrations.
Among the organisations working towards mobilising people for such protest action against the U.S. ``aggression on Iraq'' are the All India Forward Bloc and the Central trade unions which together have given a call for nation-wide demonstrations this Saturday.
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