Protests Greet Bush in Asia and Australia

October 26, 2003

Tens of thousands of demonstrators greeted President Bush, during his week-long visit to Asia and Australia, from October 16-23.

In Tokyo, Japan, scores of demonstrators turned out at the U.S. Embassy as President Bush arrived on October 17. They demanded the United States give up its nuclear arsenal and enact an international nuclear test ban treaty. The protest, organized by the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers, coincided with Bush's arrival in Japan for an overnight stay before attending a regional summit -- the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (in Bangkok, Thailand).

On October 18, President Bush arrived in the Philippines for an eight-hour visit where he reiterated pledges of more military aid for Manila. Bush had already promised to provide 20 helicopters, transport planes, patrol boats and 30,000 rifles last May when Philippine President Arroyo visited the White House.

During Bush's visit, thousands of demonstrators marched with banners denouncing the U.S. leader as a warmonger and enemy of poor farmers. "This is a question of patriotism by the Philippine people against U.S. imperialism," said Crispin Beltran, a congressman leading one group of protesters. Waving anti-U.S. placards and streamers saying "Ban Bush" and "Bush No. 1 terrorist," thousands of protesters marched from the University of the Philippines campus in suburban Quezon City. The marchers were met by police in riot gear backed by water cannon and tear gas who stopped them outside the House of Representatives building, where Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. During the address, a number of Philippine legislators walked out.

On the same day, in Hong Kong, Filipinos marched to the U.S. consulate to protest against Bush's visit, demanding that Bush stand trial for "his crimes against humanity" during the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

On October 19, thousands of anti-war activists waved banners and shouted slogans in Bangkok, Thailand as President Bush held talks ahead of the summit. Chanting "U.S. Troops Get Out of Iraq " and "George Bush Go Back," they marched from Chulalongkorn University to a square in the central shopping district one mile from the hotel where Bush was meeting Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

On October 22, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Australia's main cities to protest Bush's arrival.

"We're demonstrating to say we oppose the policies of the Bush administration and particularly the ongoing occupation of Iraq. We also oppose the Australian government's involvement in that occupation," protest organizer Nick Everett told reporters. "The Australian government should reject any further requests for assistance from the U.S.," he said.

Large demonstrations took place in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

During his 20-hour visit to Australia, Bush was greeted not only by protesters outside, but also from inside Australia's parliament where he was heckled and shouted down during his speech.