Iraqi opposition group storms office in London
Thursday, April 10, 2003
LONDON -- Opponents of Saddam Hussein celebrated the fall of Baghdad by storming an Iraqi diplomatic office Wednesday, shattering the glass front door and tearing up portraits of the Iraqi leader before police arrested 24 people.
About 60 people took over the Iraqi interest section at the Jordanian Embassy and "evicted a couple of staff," said Zuhair al-Maher, a member of the group Iraqi Opposition in Exile.
"We have occupied it to show the world that the Iraqi opposition is delighted and glad at the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime," al-Maher told The Associated Press by telephone.
Scotland Yard said demonstrators were quickly cleared from the building, and police arrested two dozen people for offenses including criminal damage.
Ali Baraka, 23, a London student, said the break-in was a spontaneous action to show support "for the Iraqi people who were liberated today." The demonstrators intended to "give a peaceful expression of their happiness of the fall-down of the regime today," said Baraka, who avoided arrest.
Some portraits of Saddam were taken down and ripped, Baraka added.
Another protester, Yassin El-Assari, waved a picture of his brother who he claimed was executed by the Iraqi regime.
"Saddam Hussein has tortured us for 35 years so we don't know how to express our happiness. We just want to get rid of his pictures, do anything that will break them up," he said.
Iraq severed diplomatic relations with Britain in February 1991. The country was represented through the Jordanian Embassy until Britain expelled two Iraqi diplomats this year.