IN response to D M Martin and R S Pearson (February 13), I shall be marching for peace. And yes I do vote and yes I do know how it is we came to enjoy our present freedoms and no I do not belong and never have belonged to any political party.

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Saddam is a vicious and unpleasant tyrant guilty of heinous crimes against his own people and his neighbours. No one in their right mind would support him and he must be contained.

Sadly, he is not alone. If this war were truly about freeing an oppressed people from a tyrant, then what about all the other bad guys? Are we to start bombing and killing people in Israel, Zimbabwe and other countries that would take too long to list?

Is it not bad enough for the ordinary people of Iraq that they live under the heel of a tyrant? Now they are to have bombs rained down on them in the name of freedom and liberty. Is there really no other way?

When did it become acceptable to export democracy and justice through the barrel of a gun?

Don't confuse this war with the entirely separate issues of asylum seekers and economic migrants. Don't condemn out of hand our European neighbours because of the tragic history we share. Stop and consider the ordinary people of Iraq and our brave and professional servicemen and women who will be putting their lives on the line in the next few weeks. Don't you think they deserve better than this? To risk the ultimate sacrifice in support of Bush and his ambitions?

Blind belief in our leaders is a dangerous thing, history should have taught us that at least. I urge everyone to question our government and question what we are being told and if the answers fall short, speak out. The freedom we enjoy comes with responsibility, we are each responsible for ensuring the sacrifice of previous generations is not squandered by apathy and passive acceptance.

M A Errington, Hilbra Avenue, Haxby, York.

... IT is an old tactic favoured by certain sections of the political right to suggest movements that oppose their viewpoint are an unrepresentative, ideological minority.

DM Martin says the anti-war movement is made up of the Socialist Workers Party, the Green Party and "other assorted anarchists". In this, I suppose we include Charles Kennedy, Mo Mowlan, most of the Church of England's bishops, people from the entertainment and sporting world, many business leaders and thousands of ordinary people from ordinary communities like York.

The march is likely to be the biggest ever seen in London, featuring a vast cross-section of the population mobilising against a supposedly democratic leader taking a country to war against the wishes of his electorate.

Even those people who support war are cautious and uncertain about action.

Tony Blair needs to listen to the voice of the no-longer silent majority and shut his ears to the hysteria of the tiny fiery dragon brigade.

Martyn Clayton, Park Lane, Holgate, York.

... SADDAM is a brutal dictator and ideally he should be removed from power, but I oppose the war for several reasons.

Firstly, I mistrust Tony Blair's motives in jumping on George W Bush's bandwagon. I suspect that this has a lot to do with wanting to be seen as a world player.

Secondly, what right has the USA to march into any country and remove the government, even if it is un-elected? Some might argue about the validity of George Bush's election victory.

I am suspicious of 'regime change'. Change means not just removing Saddam from power but also putting in someone else.

Since the US has been very quiet on who's going to take over in Iraq, can we take it that Iraq will remain a US colony after the inevitable victory? Will this mean that the people of Iraq feel any more 'free'?

We're paying for all this! The Americans will pick the fight - they'll land all the lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq and we'll end up footing the bill to police the country when the US's weak puppet leader attracts opposition - just like in Afghanistan.

I am not anti-American, but I am certainly anti-Bush, and anti-Blair for that matter. I did vote at the last General Election and I didn't help Tony Blair to victory.

Dr Richard Greaves, Morehall Close, York.

... I AM not an anarchist, or a member of the Socialist Workers Party or the Green Party. I am, I hope, a member of a civilised society living in the 21st century who believes that the removal of a tyrant cannot be achieved simply by murdering thousands of his innocent citizens as well as many of our own soldiers.

If we do go to war is Saddam himself likely to be hurt? I very much doubt it.

As for the references to Saddam's son taking over, in the same way as has happened in North Korea, is not George W in the same position? At least George senior was democratically elected, which is more than can be said for George W.

I am sad not to be able to march on Saturday, but my heart will be with the marchers. The march is not about saving Saddam or humiliating the Americans. It is about trying to find a solution that does not involve the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents.

It is about standing united as an international community rather than allowing one man's need for revenge against one other man to destroy the UN, NATO, any hopes of peace in the Middle East and probably the world as we know it.

John Jefferis, Lynwood View, Copmanthorpe, York.

... DM Martin's point about our not condemning Saddam's actions puzzled me. These very actions - all, pre-Kuwait, taken with full implied or explicit knowledge of the West - have been crucial in exposing the hypocrisy of the current actions being taken.

DM Martin's final point, regarding asylum seekers, had a touch of irony about it. In the event of a war, Britain will have little worry about thousands of "fit and healthy" Iraqis making their way here. Most will be lacking in certain vital areas - arms, legs, family members...

Jonathan Thompson, Skiddaw, Woodthorpe, York.

... IT is not just the Socialists and the Green Party who will be marching on Saturday. The anti-war movement is arguably the most diverse social movement in British and European history with people from all cultures, faiths, political and social backgrounds.

Owing to the strength and the diversity of the anti-war movement, I am confident in saying that DM Martin's insulting and ill-informed views are the pathetic minority.

Rory Palmer, York Students Against the War, Farrar Street, York.

Updated: 11:19 Saturday, February 15, 2003