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New Yorkers Stand for Peace!

Written by Zeyneb DEVRES
Photographs by Seze DEVRES

All over the world, on February 15, 2003, a commitment was made to show world support for the inspections and disarming of Iraq and its dictating threats of terror.  It was a historic day for the union of the entire world to stand for peace.  A record number 500,000 people gathered around the United Nations and created one of the most vocal and largest protests in new York City since the 1970s.


I was lucky to have a good start of the day when I went to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s emotional sermon for those who were present at the 9 o'clock mass of the Holy Family Church before the protests had begun.

Later, once the area around the U.N. was filled with protesters, many started to walk further uptown and west creating many mini protest sites, reclaiming the streets in clusters all around Manhattan from Times Square to the Upper East Side. 

As we were walking towards midtown, moving in a sea of people in unison, there seemed to be one common vision embodied to the minds of all, the compassion to speak out against the horrors of war.

The crowds were beginning to swell in areas so the police were blocking off streets to divert the crowds further uptown and cordoned off areas. While fencing people into the street blocks and away from the main meeting venue of First Avenue block by block, we were observing the crowd from age to 7 to 77.

However for many who had come to the protest early, rather than peacefully flow and walk, they were being lured into barricaded street blocks to stand imprisoned but quietly to make a stand for peace.

Feeling trapped in, as if in cages in the street blocks, thousands were trying to keep warm under each other.  Many of the police were thinking and sharing their opinion some whispering "hang in there.”

With hundreds of thousands standing entrapped like sardines, there could have been devastating occurrences, if it weren't for the composure and poise that emanated through the crowd, who were all there for peace.  The calmness of the protesters could be attributed to their unified call for peace as they huddled together listening to the many moving speeches on portable radios.

The message was quiet yet clear, that most Americans don't want war.  Even though the media, police and the Bush administration want to marginalize the protestors who came to the peace meeting.

It was obvious that this day was one of the greatest world peace marches, portrayed with highest numbers of participants that the world Globalization is happening in hearts and mind of many from diverse cultures.  We are not alone, the Europeans, the Asians, the Israelis, and Iraq's neighbors do not want war.

Many soon realized that it didn't matter to be in First Avenue where we could perhaps see and hear the speakers, it was all right to be in the one of the many enclaves of people that reached farther uptown to the seventies and beyond Third Avenue,  as we were united with that one element of peace.  We were sharing the notion through smiles and glances that in our heart we all want peace and the path to it is not through war like the Bush administration is trying to treason.  

Peace will appear of its own nature. The solution must be reached through dialogue.  We could talk eternally with the other nations like all politicians do.  This would be diplomacy.

And it is not late.  Peace can be claimed by all, if it is supported and sustained by everyone, and it can all happen through your own daily actions and decisions.

- . -

More photographs of the protest may be seen at:  http://seze.net/f15/site

This issue is dedicated to the Peace Process of SRI LANKA & prominent Turkish author Yasar KEMAL

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