LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Thousands of protestors marched against the Iraq war in Los Angeles on Saturday as part of a global day of action that drew huge crowds in London and smaller protests elsewhere in Europe and Canada.
Police said about 2,000 people marched through Hollywood, while organizers put the figure at 10,000. They carried banners denouncing President George W. Bush and urged an end to the conflict in Iraq, where 155,000 US troops are deployed.
Earlier, thousands of people gathered in London and the Scottish city of Glasgow ahead of the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq on March 20, calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Police in London said there were 10,000 on the streets but organizers the Stop the War Coalition put the crowds at between 30,000 to 40,000. In Glasgow police estimated between 1,000 to 1,500 protesters at the height of the march.
In Los Angeles, Vietnam war veteran Ron Kovic, whose book "Born on the Fourth of July" was turned into a film with Tom Cruise, joined the march down Hollywood Boulevard in his wheelchair.
Shot and paralyzed in Vietnam 40 years ago, he told AFP he felt "sorrow" and "anguish" for the Iraqi people and for the US men and women fighting there "who are suffering, who are losing their arms and legs, who are being killed."
"But I feel more than anything, when I see what's going on in Iraq I feel determined, determined to fight with everything within us to stop this madness," he added.
Meanwhile in London, veteran left-winger and former Labour Party lawmaker Tony Benn said Britain's involvement in Iraq, where the country has 4,100 troops, and Afghanistan, where it has 7,800, had caused "devastation."
The Green Party's member of the European Parliament, Caroline Lucas, called for former British prime minister Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown to be prosecuted for war crimes.
"They need to know you cannot bomb your way to peace," she said.
In Glasgow, protesters were joined by the mother of a British soldier who was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, as well as left-wing groups and trade unions.
The British Foreign Office described the protesters' claims as "simply not accurate," pointing to the "steady progress, particularly in terms of security" being made in Iraq and said the government had learnt from mistakes.
Elsewhere in Europe, around 500 people opposed to the US presence in Iraq marched through Stockholm city centre in freezing rain carrying banners with messages like "Yankees Go Home" and "Five years of war, one million dead."
"I'm here because I think it is extremely important to demonstrate against American policy in Iraq, especially now that the media is focusing less on the tragedy there," said Leif Staalhammer, a 67-year-old actor.
Around 600 people also demonstrated in Sweden's second largest city, Gothenburg, the TT news agency reported, while in Norway, police said some 200 people marched through the centre of Oslo to the parliament building.
In Denmark, around 100 people demonstrated peacefully against the Iraq war in the northern town of Aalborg, local police spokesman Ole Christensen told AFP.
Demonstrations also took place Saturday across Canada, including in Toronto, where 1,000 people protested against parliament's decision last week to extend Canada's 2,500-strong deployment to Afghanistan, local TV reported.
In Montreal, about 50 people demonstrated against both Canada's involvement in Afghanistan and the Iraq war, an AFP journalist said, while in Ottawa protestors gathered near the US embassy, according to the Canadian Peace Alliance.
Christine Jones, co-chairwoman of the peace alliance, said parliament's vote on Afghanistan was misguided, arguing: "Afghanistan is worse off because of the military occupation and Canadians are more opposed to the war than ever before."
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