SCMP   2003-03-24   

HK protesters call for an end to the fighting 


       A petition bearing the signatures of about 3,000 people was presented to the US consulate in Hong Kong yesterday after a protest march against the war in Iraq.


About 500 people demonstrated at Edinburgh Place in Central yesterday, calling for the hostilities to cease.


The rally was organised by the Hong Kong No War Coalition, which comprises non-governmental organisations including Greenpeace and Oxfam.


Speakers at the rally voiced their concerns about the war and sang anti-war songs, before the protesters marched to the consulate and submitted the petition.


Peace coalition spokesman Reverend Fung Chi-wood said the protest was organised to send a message to the American government to stop the war and withdraw its troops from Iraq.


All of us are hoping to see an end to this war as soon as possible, he said. This war is cruel. We know a lot of innocent civilians will die.


Mr Fung said he was pleased to observe an anti-war sentiment among Hong Kong people.


He said: Some people do fear how the war will affect Hong Kong economically. But I believe most don't come here because of economic reasons. People come to join us mainly because they think the war is wrong. We have been getting a lot of support from people, and there is a consensus that it's wrong for the US government to invade Iraq.


Mr Fung said the anti-war movement was growing, and the coalition would organise other anti-war campaigns if the war dragged on.


Greenpeace spokesman Lo Sze-ping said while the protests were unlikely to bring an immediate end to war, such rallies were needed to press the case that the US was acting unlawfully.


He said: This war has not been backed by the United Nations. We are asking the US and the British governments to withdraw their troops.


Mr Lo added: We are happy to see so many youngsters joining us today. Given that there are other protests across the territory, the participation is very encouraging.


It shows that Hong Kong people are willing to spend their time on something that they feel very strongly about.