Accessibility links

Thousands Protest US-Iraq War in Asia


Thousands of anti-war protesters have taken to the streets across Asia.

There were demonstrations in several cities throughout Indonesia. A crowd estimated at around 1,000 gathered in Bandung, with smaller demonstrations reported in Medan and Makassar, on Sulawesi Island.

Chanting "destroy Bush" and "long live Islam," angry demonstrators in western Malaysia burned effigies of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, along with flags from both countries, in protest against the American-led attacks on Iraq. The demonstration in Kota Baharu, in Kelantan state, was peaceful. Malaysia opposes military action in Iraq, and warns the conflict could lead to an upsurge in terrorism worldwide.

About 100, mostly Muslim, anti-war protesters gathered peacefully in front of the U.S. Embassy here in Bangkok, denouncing Americans as terrorists.

Protests were larger in countries that back their long-time ally, the United States. Some 8,000 people marched in the streets of Tokyo to protest Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's decision to support military action to disarm Iraq.

Australia's prime minister has sent 2,000 soldiers to the Persian Gulf - but a majority of Australians oppose the war. Melbourne, the second most populous city, held a rally or more than 5,000 people.

There were also demonstrations in Pakistan, and among the Muslim community in India-controlled Kashmir.

So far, protests in the region have been fairly muted, compared with the massive demonstrations that were held following the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

But that could change, especially with many religious leaders across Southeast Asia voicing their strenuous opposition to the conflict. Muslim clerics across the region have called President Bush a "terrorist" and labeled him, and the leaders of the two other countries that also have troops involved in the fighting: Britain's Tony Blair and Australia's John Howard, as "war criminals."

Large protests against the American-led war in Iraq are expected in the next few days, with the biggest turnout likely in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. Indonesian police officials say they plan to beef up security in advance of what they expect to be large demonstrations on Saturday.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has cooperated with the United States in the war on terrorism, but has condemned the use of force against Iraq as a violation of international law.

Malaysian authorities have ordered tighter security for U.S. interests in the country. Malaysia is hosting a two-day meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Delegates at the meeting, which opened Friday, have been expressing their concerns that the military action in Iraq could lead to an increase in terrorist activities.

XS
SM
MD
LG