Bush wants the obscene display of US military arsenal to “shock and awe” the world. But a few days before the bombing began over Iraq, it was a young American woman’s courage and commitment that actually did “shock and awe” people across the world. 23 year-old Rachel Corrie was part of human shield outside the Palestine town of Rafah, standing in the way of an Israeli army bulldozer about to wreck a Palestinian home. The bulldozer crushed her to death by driving over her body twice. Her spirit will live on, to inspire anti-imperialist youth worldwide.
The war on Iraq has begun, and Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing” has started its nakedly aggressive move to “shock and awe” the Iraqi people. Simultaneously, swelling protests all over the world are flooding the streets in outrage. Thousands of protestors have been arrested in the US cities of San Francisco, Washington and New York. Protests have been especially impressive in the nations allied to the US -- Spain, Australia and Britain, as well as Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Japan. As it is, in countries all over the world, the past month of March has been one of massive marches anticipating the war.
In India too, protests anticipating and protesting the war have marked the past months. On the 15th of March, in co-ordination with worldwide protests, and in response to a CPI(ML) call, protests took place in Lucknow, Ranchi, Chennai, several centres in Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata and other places. At Patna, a massive march took place, where a range of progressive and democratic forces joined with CPI(ML) activists led by the General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. At Delhi, the CPI(ML) call for a massive human chain at Mandi House was joined by a range of Left and democratic forces.
The onset of the bombing was followed by prompt protests. In response to a central call by the CPI(ML), various left parties in Guwahati, Lucknow, and Chennai joined hands on the 20th March to burn the effigy of Bush, within hours of the onset of war. On the 21st, effigy burning programmes took place at Delhi, Patna, Kolkata and Bhubaneswar. On the 22nd, a massive protest by teachers, students, left parties and intelligentsia took place at the US Embassy, culminating in a mass arrest. This was preceded by a mass meeting where General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya spoke on behalf of the CPI(ML). AISA and AIPWA activists along with those of SFI and AIDWA, defied Section 144 to chain themselves to the railings of the US Embassy, where they were later arrested.
The CPI(ML) has launched an all-India anti-war campaign from 22-28 March, to oppose imperialist war and demand that the Indian government unequivocally condemn the war and pressurize the US govt. to withdraw from Iraq. As part of this campaign, district-level protests will campaigns will culminate in a massive national anti-war march to US Embassy on the 28th. Similar demonstrations will take place in other states at US consulates and Vidhan Sabhas. q