ROME – Some 150,000 marchers walked the 25 km from Assisi to the Italian city of Perugia in a protest against U.S. air strikes on targets in Afghanistan, Italian TV reported. The peace march was organized by several Catholic groups and Italian opponents of globalization.
Assisi, which has kept much of its medieval appearance, is a place of pilgrimage associated with Saint Francis. Center-left parties opposing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi supported the march and leader of the opposition Francesco Rutelli walked in the procession, although he has publicly supported military pressure on the Taliban.
CALCUTTA – About 70,000 people staged a peace rally last week in Calcutta, the country’s biggest anti-war protest so far. The demonstration in the West Bengal capital, organized by the state’s ruling Left Front coalition government, drew members of leftist groups and unions as well as intellectuals and students. The protesters were drenched by rain as they shouted, ‘We want peace, not war,’ ‘Stop the terrorism against Afghanistan.’
TORONTO – In the early hours of Oct. 16, over 2,000 people gathered downtown to protest the Canadian government’s increasingly repressive policies. Protesters managed to shut down the financial district, clogging downtown traffic and halting the subways for almost five hours.
The rally, which was organized by the Ontario Common Front and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, was intended to start an ‘economic disruption’ campaign against the Tory government. But the attacks of Sept. 11 and Canadian support for the U.S. war on Afghanistan changed the tenor of the demonstration. Canada is trying to pass a restrictive anti-terrorism bill similar to the one passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.