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Iraq: Protesters Rally Round The World On One-year Anniversary


http://gdb.rferl.org/67E3D8A2-2A33-4ACE-884D-C8656542F865_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/67E3D8A2-2A33-4ACE-884D-C8656542F865_mw800_mh600.jpg Prague, 20 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Protests against the war in Iraq have been held around the world to mark one year since the U.S.-led invasion.

Protesters braved rain in Tokyo for one of the first rallies. Demonstrations across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East attracted thousands. But there were far fewer protesters than in the huge rallies that preceded the war.

Many -- like this protester in Bangkok -- said they want their countries' troops brought home from Iraq: "Americans never honor Thailand with equality, they treat us as cheap dispensable slaves, it is a shame that [Prime Minister] Thaksin [Shinawatra] still senselessly follows the Americans."

Many demonstrations recalled the failure of the U.S.-led coalition to find the weapons of mass destruction the ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was supposed to possess.

In London, two protesters climbed up Big Ben, the landmark clock at the Houses of Parliament, and unfurled a banner reading "Time for truth."

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush stuck to his defense of the invasion. He said it was the beginning of the Iraqi people's deliverance.

"The liberation of Iraq was good for the Iraqi people, good for America, and good for the world. The fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression, and instability from the Middle East. The worst regime in the region was given way to what will soon be among the best."

But amid ongoing violence in Iraq and bomb attacks like this month's Madrid train blasts, today's protesters refuse to believe U.S. assurances the world is now a safer place.
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