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Not in Our Name: How Iraq sparked a new anti-war movement

Opposition to war in Iraq galvanised a million people to march in London in February 2003.

By STV News

Published 06 Jul 2016.

In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq a new anti-war movement sparked into life.

Galvanised by what they considered to be the US and the UK's determination to start a war, protesters mobilised across the world.

The UK was no exception, staging some of the biggest demonstrations in the country's history.

On September 28, 2002, there was the first indication of the strength of feeling in Britain against attacking Iraq.

The demonstration was organised in protest to the dossier that had been published only days before by Tony Blair's government, which had painted Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a "serious threat" to the UK.

Protesters believed the document - which would eventually become known as the "dodgy dossier" - was being used to stoke fears and bolster the case for war.

Organisers insisted over 350,000 people attended the 'peace rally' in London's Hyde Park, although police put estimates at around 150,000.

Anti-war sentiment ran high in Scotland too.

A protest in Glasgow's George Square on October 19, 2002, was one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Scotland since the 1980s.

Police estimated a turnout of around 5000, although again organisers thought the numbers had been underestimated and suggested they were closer to 15,000.

A national day of action at the end of October 2002 saw a wave of over 150 protests timed to coincide with Hallowe'en, culminating in a demonstration of an estimated 3000 people outside Westminster.

Protest action began to take increasingly creative forms, such as the "die-in" staged in Whitehall in December 2002 and the blocking of the road outside the British Army's headquarters in January 2003.

On February 15, 2003, the largest protest in UK history took place in London along with co-ordinated rallies across the world, including in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A rally in Rome that day was officially named the largest protest in history by the Guinness Book of World Records, with around 3 million people thought to have been in attendance.

Over a million people are thought to have taken part in the march in London.

Anti-war activism continued right up until military action began on March 20, including a large demonstration on the streets of Edinburgh on March 6.

Opposition to the Iraq War continued throughout the conflict, even if the numbers seen in protests during the run-up to military action began to fall.

By 2004, polling was beginning to suggest British public opinion of the war was shifting decisively against it.

A rally was held on March 20, 2004, to mark the first anniversary of the launch of military action.

As the conflict intensified, new voices entered the anti-war movement, including Rose Gentle from Glasgow, whose son Gordon died in Basra in 2004.

Ms Gentle became one of the most prominent anti-war campaigners in the UK and founded an organisation called Military Families Against The War.

Believing the war to be illegal, she has unsuccessfully fought to have this recognised in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Ms Gentle was a fierce critic of delays to the publication of the Chilcot report, which will be published on Wedneday and will aim to answer key questions regarding Britain's involvement in the conflict.

In the US, Cindy Sheehan - another mother who lost a son in Iraq - came to international attention in August 2005 when she launched a protest in a makeshift camp outside President George W Bush's Texas ranch.

She unsuccessfully stood for Congress in 2008 and was sued in the US government in 2012 for failing to pay her taxes - Sheehan said in response: "If they can give me my son back, then I'll pay my taxes."

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