15th February 2003

         (One of 600 cities holding Peace rallies today)


All religions.gif (21094 bytes)

                                                 A personal report on the day from Sandy


What an amazing day it was!!! The entire event was incredibly well organised and ran so smoothly. A peaceful and fun day was had by all. No hassles. The police were friendly, helpful and happy and basically were just around if directions were needed. They were not policing or controlling anything. They really just let everyone get on with it. The whole event was a sharing of hearts and minds.

It was quite cold, around 2 to 4 degrees above 0 (it is winter here!) but we had an accurate weather forecast and everyone came prepared with their woollies on. I had my ultra warm comfortable boots on, which probably made me look a bit like the Yeti, but I was warm and cosy and could easily walk the miles of the march. Even the police had extra warm clothing on, which must have made them more comfortable for their very long day. There was no rain predicted for the entire British Isles, so all the coaches could arrive easily in London and in good time. A miracle or what!

It is always hard to estimate numbers. The organisers, news teams and Satellite TV reports have said between 1 and 2 million people attended. This seems right to me. The sea of people seemed to go on forever. Scotland Yard has said there were only around 750, 000 but perhaps that was to help make the government feel a little better! People came from all over Britain. Coaches were hired all over the country and were parked along the full length of Hyde Park – and that is a big park. The rest of the coaches (far too many to park) came back into Hyde Park area, allowed through the barricades at the end of the day to collect their passengers. I noticed a few coaches had signs on them – saying ‘We sing on this coach – join us’.

The fun started on the train heading for London. Normally, the early morning Saturday trains have only a handful of people on board. This one was packed. A happy bunch of enthusiastic people, many sporting placards, all determined to be a part of this opportunity to have their say. Everyone chatted. laughing like old friends (rather unusual for the English), sharing details of which London stations were closed and where the Rally start points were. That was just the beginning of a truly wonderful day.

Words fail me (almost!). I have never seen so many people! - and they just kept coming. It was fabulous. The London streets were closed off to cars. The feeling of freedom to walk on the streets was great. These roads are wide and they were packed with people across their width from pavement to pavement.

There were 2 main gathering points. The crowd starting from The Embankment stretched back for miles over the London Bridge, so the organisers decided to start them off much earlier than their 12.30 planned start. A clever move. The last of them were still rolling into Hyde Park 7 HOURS LATER!

I managed to mix with many individuals and various groups throughout the day, from the very young to the elderly. I kept dropping back in the massive sea of people sprawling through London, in order to capture the overall feeling. There were musicians, jugglers, great costumes, stilt walkers, singers, loud whistles, children having a ball, peace badges, colourful clothing, wonderful creations of slogans and signs, flags showing support from other countries including French and Russia. It seemed everyone had a presence from Muslims and Iraqis, Palestinian groups, various churches, universities and peace groups. But for me this great voice of people power did not come mainly from groups. It came from a huge mass of individuals, in their ones, twos and threes - the British voice rang out loud and clear. It rang out with many musical instruments (a father and small daughter drumming near me were brilliant), some with megaphones, great whistles, and many voices raised in songs like, "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." Chants ranged from "People power’ This is what it feels like. This is what it looks like" and "One, two, three, four, we don’t want no bloody war" (this changed now and again to ‘we don’t want no racist war’) and, well yes, they didn’t escape - ‘Bush and Blair have got to go.’ The banners were many and varied, some very funny and witty, some saying ‘Peace for the whole world’, but probably the bulk were saying ‘Not in My Name’ and ‘Don’t attack Iraq’. Personally, I had gone to London to say ‘Do not kill people in my name.’ I was very happy to carry a ‘Not in My Name’ banner, which someone kindly gave me.

One thing was evident from all the chanting, all the banners and placards and the communication I exchanged with people on the day. I can only speak for myself, but personally I did not see or hear anyone, of any nationality, support Saddam Hussain in any way. The consensus was that he is a tyrant that needs to go. There didn’t appear to be any doubt about that. But the reason was not because anyone was in fear about possible weapons of mass destruction reaped upon us, but because he kills and tortures his own people. This huge voice was saying ‘We don’t need to kill Iraqi people (or our own), in order to handle Saddam Hussain.’

Tony Blair (UK Prime Minister) attended a conference in Glasgow, Scotland on the day of the rally, having chosen to be out of London for the day! The TV news that evening showed him encountering a huge demonstration in Glasgow instead!! No escaping life, eh! Mr. Blair made a statement at the conference saying he felt the people who marched in the rally were misguided and they wouldn’t protest if they realised Saddam was a tyrant and was killing his own people. This was, to my mind, perhaps an attempt to undermine the impact of the rally. It really was obvious that the people do know, Mr Blair. They are simply saying - ‘there has to be another way, a better solution.’

Some people were saying war has to be a last resort, but many others were saying it is never the answer. If I could sum up the day in London, it was the voice of the people saying ‘Surely as human beings we have moved beyond needing to kill people. The power has always been in the hands of the people. Maybe we have reached that place where we realise it.
The people are speaking ‘There has to be another way – a better solution. We have to move on. Let us create a world of peace and harmony, compassion and love.'

With rainbows of Light,

                          Sandy Stevenson     


And a few words of wisdom from a friend –


We are Victorious - Happy and Glorious Robin Bee XxXxX