Parliament Square turned into graveyard on anniversary of Iraq war

By staff writers
21 Mar 2007

Christians have illegally protested the invasion of Iraq by staging a demonstration in Parliament Square, and planting crosses to remember the Iraqi men, women and children killed by US and UK forces.

The protestors included many from the Catholic Worker movement and Voices in the Wilderness, a pressure group focusing specifically on the invasion of Iraq.

Marking the fourth anniversary of the invasion, Christians planted 186 crosses, each bearing the name of an Iraqi killed by US or UK forces.

Each cross represented a thousand people killed since the invasion, said campaigners.

Calling for an immediate end to the occupation, protestors Chris Goodchild and Henrietta Cullinan prayed and led people gathered there in the 'stations of the cross', while others unrolled a banner bearing the words “186,000 Iraqis killed by US/UK forces”.

Father Martin Newell said; "The season of Lent seemed to be a proper time to be planting crosses - crosses of repentence during this season of liturgical journeying towards the Cross of Jesus. It seemed a proper time too, to make the link in my own life between the so-many crosses that are planted 'in our name' - and at the behest of so-called Christians George W Bush and Tony Blair too - in Iraqi soil - and the Cross of Jesus, the 'loving-kindness of the heart of our God' (Benedictus, Luke ch.1) - by planting crosses in the soil of Parliament Square."

According to a survey published in the Lancet last October, at least 186,000 Iraqis have been killed by coalition forces in Iraq since the beginning of the 2003 invasion – 31% of all violent deaths in Iraq up to June 2006.

A BBC/ICM survey of more than 1,000 people, released yesterday (Tuesday) suggested that the Iraq war now has support from less than a third of the UK population.

Most people do not now believe it was justified morally or politically.

Gabriel Carlyle, who like many refused to ask police-permission to protest outside Parliament, said: “78% of Iraqis believe that the occupation is causing more conflict than it prevents. It’s time to end Britain’s participation in this disastrous and immoral occupation and bring the troops home.”

This is not the first time the London Catholic Workers have tried to highlight the militancy of the present government by protesting with in the area around parliament designated a ‘no protest without permit’ zone.

On 26 February many took part in a creative act of resistance by dressing up as weapons inspectors with clip board and white protective overalls, and demanding entry to government buildings.

On 29 October last year they too part in a 'Peace Camp' set up outside Parliament, to remind the U.K. government of their responsibility to the refugees displaced by the US attack on the town of Fallujah.

The Catholic Worker protest follows similar demonstrations in the US where over 200 Christians were arrested outside the White House this weekend.

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