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Common Dreams report -- 3 days of protests worldwide

In Saturday's a third straight day of protest, demonstrators in Asia massed in front of US embassies, branding US President George W. Bush and his allies British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard "terrorists" and "war criminals" for sending troops to attack the Baghdad regime.
Major anti-war demonstrations ricocheted across the globe, with thousands of Asians venting their outrage, and Europe and the United States mobilizing for massive protest against the third day of the US-led war on Iraq.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Taiwan and Thailand saw protest and effigies of Bush burned, ahead of what was expected to be a dramatic show of collective action in London, Athens, Paris, Rome, Berlin and several US cities.

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, 3,000 protestors gathered in front of the US embassy before moving on to the nearby British embassy. The crowd, which included many women, carried a coffin to symbolize the death of the United Nations.

Another protest was also staged by about 1,500 people in Yogyakarta in central Java, witnesses said, while hundreds of students in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province, burned Bush's effigy in a protest, Antara state news agency reported.

Predominantly Muslim Bangladesh was gripped by a nationwide strike in protest at the war.

Witnesses there said 6,000 teachers, students and staff of Bangladesh's Dhaka University marched in the capital, also burning Bush's effigy. Hundreds of Islamic militants had earlier gathered before the city's main mosque, shouting anti-US slogans and facing down rings of riot police.

In South Korea, Buddhist monks struck giant drums at a Seoul rally of 2,000 to console the spirits of victims of the war. A poem was read and entertainers performed.

"Bush is the war criminal," human rights activist Park Won-Soon said to the crowd, which condemned Seoul's decision Friday to send non-combatant troops to help US-led forces to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Australia, which has sent 2,000 combat troops to aid nearly 300,000 US and British soldiers in the Gulf, saw four anti-war protests, including one in Western Australia's capital, Perth, where an estimated 10,000 people marched.

Thousands more massed in front of US embassies in the capitals of New Zealand and Thailand in a further show of opposition to a war without UN backing.

Hundreds of thousands were expected to turn out in Europe Saturday, a day after protests in Athens and Madrid turned violent, pitting truncheon- and tear gas-armed police against peace demonstrators and anarchists.

Middle East protests were also violent on Friday, with two killed in Yemen and fiery pro-Saddam rallies in several countries and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

London prepared for what organizer Stop the War Coalition said would be a "substantial demonstration" if not as big as the million-strong march of February 15 -- the biggest seen in London in recent memory.

More than 3,000 police were being deployed to keep order, although previous anti-war demonstrations have gone off without serious incident.

In Gloucestershire, western England, several thousand protestors were expected outside Royal Air Force's Fairford base, where US air force B-52 bombers are positioned.

In Greece, farmers, union organizers, anti-globalization activists and feminist groups all began banding together behind "Men above Profits" banners and anti-war placards in the capital, following two days of demonstration which each drew more than 150,000.

Italians, too, have planned more than 80 anti-war rallies, a day after a pro-peace farmers' rally in Rome drew an estimated 300,000. Other cities holding protests against the Italian government's pro-US stance and the war included Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Palermo and Turin.

In the capitals of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden, and The Netherlands' main city Amsterdam, anti-war protests were being prepared.

In the United States, marchers were expected to converge on the White House in Washington, while protests were also planned in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities.

Since the war began on Thursday, hundreds of anti-war rallies across the United States have swelled and intensified, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets, some paralyzing traffic and clashing with police.

Copyright 2003 AFP

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