Overseas, Internet Is Rallying Point for Antiwar Activists
By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 12, 2003; 10:20 AM
The Internet has proven a valuable tool for Americans opposed to a U.S. war against Iraq, but it's overseas that antiwar protesters are making the most of cyberspace, with activists from Europe to Australia going online to create a transnational push for peace.
The most accessible sites for many American readers are based in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking nations. One U.K. site -- comfy-enjoy.com/everyonecounts -- advocates a massive letter-writing campaign against war in Iraq. The site uses the same logic as a chain letter, telling readers: "If 4 people in each link of the email chain continue the chain and write a letter the chain need have only 10 links for over a million letters to be sent." The site has a link for Britons to fax their members of Parliament and offers readers a sample letter to send to Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In several European countries, antiwar groups are using the Web to organize protests outside U.S. military bases. In Germany, Resist the War's site (www.resistthewar.de), which includes an English-language section, was used to recruit volunteers for a February 22 sit-in outside of a U.S. base near Frankfurt.
In the U.K., Reclaim the Bases (www.reclaimthebases.org.uk) is organizing protests at military bases throughout the country on April 5 and 6, inviting readers to join an online mailing list for more information.
An effort to send "human shields" to Iraq last month linked activists from several countries. The U.K.-based Human Shields Project (www.humanshields.org) is cross-linked to French, Italian and Spanish sites promoting the same effort. The British site also prominently promotes a site built by Ken Nichols O'Keefe (www.uksociety.org), an American activist who helped organize some human-shield efforts.
In Germany, www.15februar.org was set up to help organize the German portions of large protests that occurred worldwide on Feb. 15. Although primarily focused on last month's events, the site includes a link to upcoming protests scheduled for March 15 and offers generous helpings of downloads for placards, buttons and fliers, as well as news clippings, audio and video. There is a large list of supporters and underwriters for the site and the protest efforts. The site also carries links to antiwar sites throughout the world.
Not surprisingly, France boasts a rich line-up of antiwar sites. The French site La Mouvement de la Paix (www.mvtpaix.org) -- The Peace Movement -- offers a large amount of archival material, including research papers, articles and other tracts against war in Iraq. It also features a petition against war in Iraq, downloadable flyers, a solicitation for opinions and contact numbers across the country for the group's local representatives. The English version is prominently displayed on the homepage, but the link does not appear to work.
The Spanish site Paz Ahora (www.pazahora.org) -- "Peace Now" -- links to a Spanish-language version of the antiwar pledge sponsored by the U.S. group Not In Our Name (www.notinourname.net). The site focuses on conflicts ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis to Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq.
The Web is being used to showcase journalism and commentary critical of a war in Iraq. The Peace UK site (www.peaceuk.net) is heavy on reports critical of the U.S. and British governments. Electronic Iraq (electroniciraq.net/news) was started last month to supply news and views from Iraq and other parts of the world that oppose war. It calls on worldwide activists to submit dispatches and photos to help run the international site.
The Independent Media Center (www.indymedia.org) is a global clearinghouse for alternative journalism, linking to worldwide antiwar coverage, including news from Australia, Belgium and Canada.
Iraq Body Count (www.iraqbodycount.net) is pursuing a unique antiwar strategy. Operated by a multinational group of researchers, the site says it will "establish an independent and comprehensive public database of civilian deaths in Iraq resulting directly from military actions by the USA and its allies in 2003."
Meanwhile, BBC Online is running a reader comment feature in its continuing coverage of the Iraq crisis, drawing in comment for and against a war from around the world.
International Antiwar Links
There are far more antiwar sites overseas than can be compiled in one article. Below is a list of sites that stood out in Internet searches and links from other sites:
• The Irish Anti-War Movement site (irishantiwar.org) publicizes protests and other war-related news. The site includes a discussion forum for readers.
• An Australian group called Palm Sunday has formed a "Walk Against War" coalition online and provides details on worldwide protests. The Palm Sunday group, according to its Web site, started in Australia to support nuclear disarmament.
• In South Africa, the African National Congress (www.anc.org.za) details the party's opposition to a war against Iraq on its homepage. The site reprints a petition signed by South African groups opposed to the war and offers downloads of a "Stop the War" flyer, poster and pamphlet.
• The International Campaign Against U.S. Aggression On Iraq (www.cairocampaign.com) is an Egyption-led antiwar group. The site is heavily cross-linked to other antiwar groups and includes an online petition, a user poll and e-cards that can be sent via e-mail.
• The British site SchNEWS (www.schnews.org.uk) promotes itself as "Direct Action Against War" and carries a list of rallying places in the U.K. where activists can gather at if war in Iraq begins.
• In Germany, Andreas Feiner recently started an antiwar blog and news site, called "Don't Beat Around The Bush" (bushcritics.gmxhome.de/index_2.html) to spur discussion between the United States and Germany about the pending war on Iraq. Feiner writes by e-mail that site visitors for now mostly hail from the U.S. The site features both German and English content.
• The Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (www.casi.org.uk) is one of many groups that have been organizing opposition to the U.N. economic sanctions imposed on Iraq in the wake of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The group provides an e-mail discussion thread.
Tomorrow's edition of this feature will look at religious groups opposed to war against Iraq. On Friday, the online movement in support of tough action against Iraq will be surveyed.
Cynthia L. Webb's e-mail address is cindy.webbwashingtonpost.com. Staff Writer Robert MacMillan contributed to this feature.