Anti-war protests dot the circumpolar world

Iceland, Denmark support war, Greenland government opposes it

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Over the past two weeks, groups of protestors around the circumpolar world have emerged to express their opposition to U.S. military action in Iraq.

Nearly 2,000 people gathered outside the Icelandic prime minister’s office last week to protest the government’s support of U.S. efforts to disarm Iraq and remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power. Protesters shouted and accused their government “of selling their souls.”

Drama students covered in red paint “played dead.” Red paint was also splashed all over the white walls of the building.

Pacifists planned to hold a “peace wake” in a downtown Reykjavík square every evening until the end of the war. Three men were arrested at the U.S. embassy in Reykjavík last week for throwing eggs at the building.

Iceland is one of 30 countries supporting the international coalition to disarm Iraq (called the ‘coalition of the willing’ by the U.S.). Iceland has allowed coalition planes to use Icelandic aerospace and the Keflavík airport if needed.

About 76 per cent of Icelanders oppose their government’s support of the U.S. in the war on Iraq, according to a new survey by the newspaper Fréttabladid.

Anti-war protesters also marched in many Norwegian cities and towns. In Rovaniemi, Finnish protesters lit hundreds of candles during an anti-war vigil.

The home rule government of Greenland is officially against the war. Greenland’s premier wrote to the Danish parliament on March 13 to say his government would oppose Denmark’s participation in the attack on Iraq.

But despite the Greenland government’s position, a proposal to condemn the war almost tore apart Greenland’s fragile coalition government.

That’s because the governing Siumut and Atassut parties wanted to stick to a letter written by Greenland Premier Hans Enoksen to Danish Premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The opposition argued the letter was outdated, and the chairman of Inuit Ataqatigiit’s caucus, Aqqaluk Lynge, pushed a proposal saying Greenland would distance itself from the Danish government on the war against Iraq.

Inuit Ataqatigiit, the Democratic Party and the Kattusseqatigiit Party supported the proposal. The opposition coalition opposes the Danish position on the grounds that the attack against Iraq doesn’t have a mandate from the United Nations.

However, the Siumut and Atassut parties say they would stand by the letter to Rasmussen, in which Premier Hans Enoksen said foreign and security matters were still a Danish affair.

The Danish government officially supports the U.S. and its coalition partners.

In Iqaluit, about 20 people stood around the city’s Four Corners intersection holding placards bearing anti-war messages.

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