Protests to mark the first anniversary of the Iraq war have been a flop in Australia with only a few thousand nationally turning out to demonstrate.
Only about 5000 protested nationally against the campaign that rid the world of a tyrant, put a nation on the road to democracy and forced another despot to clean up his act.
Worldwide, attendances were barely a tenth of those who protested against the war a year ago, drawing mainly the extreme leftwing of the anti-war movement.
Interest in Australia was so low that neither the Sunday Age in Melbourne or any of the News Limited Sunday papers bothered with reports. The Sydney Morning Herald’s web site devoted one paragraph to the news that an estimated 3000 protesters took to the streets in Sydney.
It was left to the ABC to deliver the bad news to the left that interest is waning in their anti-war cause.
The national broadcaster reported some 3000 people turned out in Sydney, chanting “End the occupation, troops out” and carrying an effigy of Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch supporter of the war.
Last year some 200,000 protested against the war.
Journalist John Pilger ensured the RWDB fact-checking machine will be whirring overnight with his claim to the Sydney rally that thousands of American soldiers are sick or dying due to uranium-tipped bombs dropped on Iraqi cities.
“By every meaning of the word terrorism the invasion of Iraq was a massive act of terrorism,” Pilger said. He refrained from urging the crowd to attack Australian service personnel, an action he endorses if carried out by terrorists in Iraq.
In Melbourne, 2000 people heard from the father of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks and the executive officer of the Victorian Council of Churches, Maureen Postma.
Brisbane’s rally attracted about 500 people, who heard from speakers including the ALP’s national president, Dr Carmen Lawrence.
ABC’s Hobart office didn’t bother filing a crowd estimate, reporting simply that “Tasmanians gathered in Hobart’s Franklin Square for a silent vigil and march.”
The news wasn’t much better from overseas for the anti-war crowd.
The left-leaning, “alternative voice” Inter Press Service News Agency noted that organisers were “clearly disappointed with the turnout estimated by the police at no more than 25,000″ in London. An organiser told media representatives that one reason for the low turnout was that “the weather isn’t great.” More than a million demonstrated in London last before the war last year.
An estimated 120,000 protested across Japan, including two rallies in Tokyo that each drew about 30,000 people, the Kyodo news agency said.
In Greece, around 10,000 protesters marched toward the US embassy in Athens which was protected by hundreds of riot police. But the numbers were well down on the some 100,000 who marched against the war last year.
Fox news reports that protesters filled more than a dozen police-lined blocks in Manhattan, calling on President Bush to bring home U.S. troops serving in Iraq. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (search) estimated the crowd at about 30,000, but organizers said later that number had grown to more than 100,000.
Organizers estimated up to 2 million people demonstrated in Rome, and 100,000 in London, but police in those cities gave estimates of 250,000 and 25,000, respectively.
About 500 protesters clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines capital, Manila.
Those hitting the street weren’t all rabid Bush, Blair and Howard haters.
Many of the US demonstrations were accompanied by smaller gatherings of Bush supporters. In Los Angeles, marchers passed by several dozen people who lined one Hollywood block, waving flags and chanting “Four more years.”
“We believe in George Bush. We believe in what he’s doing,” said Gary Beck, 48, who was visiting from Tampa, Fla.
Tim Blair, as expected, is all over the great non-attendance. And commenters there explain how Pilger’s latest lie came about:
DU tipped artillery shells are used by the US forces in some anti-armour/anti-tank weapons. That is well-known, as is the fact that DU poses no significant radiological hazard. If it’s low level of radioactivity could possibly be harmful, variations in natural background radiation from place to place would pose even more of a risk.
It is possible that the US also uses DU in highly specialised “bunker-busting” bombs. I am not aware of any but it is a possible use.
However, Pilger is claiming that there were “uranium-tipped bombs dropped on Iraqi cities” and implying that this was a routine practice. That is an outright lie. He is also claiming that “thousands” of American soldiers are sick and dying as a result. That is another outright lie.