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Outside UN, protesters urge Bush to end Iraq war

Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss / Reuters | September 19 2006

Thousands of protesters including former American soldiers rallied outside U.N. headquarters on Tuesday, urging the U.S. government to end the war in Iraq and bring home the troops.

Nearby, about 200 other protesters demonstrated against the presence of the Iranian president, others called for human rights in Myanmar, and just a handful demonstrated to press claims the United States orchestrated the September 11 attacks.

While world leaders gathered at the U.N. General Assembly inside, about 2,000 anti-Iraq war protesters chanted "Peace can work, no more war" half an hour before President Bush spoke.

"This war has drained the economy and has cost a lot of lives," said Claire Thompson, a nurse and union leader. "We're calling on our leaders to end this unsustainable war and just bring the troops back home."

There have been 2,681 U.S. military deaths since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to Pentagon figures, and 147,000 U.S. troops are serving there. At least tens of thousands of Iraqis also have died in the war.

"People in Iraq also want to end the war. We want our country back," said Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-American who moved to the United States last year.

Iranian-Americans rallied outside the U.N. headquarters, protesting the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the General Assembly.

"I am outraged by the presence of Iran at the U.N. general assembly. I think Ahmadinejad's actions and statements are pushing Iran to war," said Shirin Narunan, a leader of the Ad Hoc Committee to Stop Iran's Nuclear Weapons.

Iran, saying its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, has declined to suspend its uranium enrichment program despite U.N. Security Council demands to do so.

Burmese pro-democracy activists demanded the dissolution of the country's pro-junta organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, and the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has been in prison since 1990.

A group of protesters claimed that the U.S. government "orchestrated" the attacks on September 11. Les Jamison, an event coordinator of NY 911 Truth, said the 9/11 tragedy was scripted by the U.S. government to regain "military might."


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