In the past several months, the anti-war movement has gained momentum. Even as Bush pushes the world to back US military action in Iraq, many Americans, as well as others around the world, are skeptical about the US government's claim that Iraq poses a threat to world security. Many people say that the current anti-war movement, which stretches well beyond the boundaries of North America, is comparable to Viet Nam War opposition seen only after the war had been in progress for many years.
The most widely used tactics to oppose war on Iraq have been die-ins, vigils, petitions, teach-ins, letters to newspapers, citizens contacting their local representatives and the President, anti-war ads in newspapers (including the New York Times), lawn signs and banners, and massive protests occurring literally around the globe. To date, about 30 US cities have adopted anti-war resolutions. February 15 rallies are expected to bring out over ten million protesters literally throughout the world. Read on for more details about anti-war initiatives and actions.
Military Families Speak Out
While protesting war on Iraq on October 26, 2002, a chance encounter between two fathers of young men in the military provided the initial sparks for forming Military Families Speak Out. Initial publicity of the group took the form of a circulating email, written by Jeff McKenzie of Gasport, NY. In the letter, McKenzie discusses his concerns about the orders that his son, along with other military men and women, will receive from their Commander in Chief. Military Families Speak Out has now begun to receive national media coverage and, as it grows in numbers, will continue to gain political clout. A similar group was formed during the first Gulf War, although this group fizzled out after troops returned home. Military Families Speak Out plans to continue on for the long haul and will tackle other issues that concern military personnel such as the "War on Terrorism," military toxins, vaccines, nuclear issues, and will provide support to Conscientious Objectors. To learn more, give support, or join the MFSO list serve, visit <groups.yahoo.com/group/MilitaryFamiliesSpeakOut>.
Canadian Weapons Inspectors
This Canadian born anti-war initiative asks the US to practice what it preaches by disclosing information on its own chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Rooting Out Evil has developed an international team of weapons inspectors including a bishop, an admiral, trade union leaders, one member of Parliament from Canada and another from the UK, and other high profile folks from faith groups, science, arts, academics and social movements. The team will cross the US-Canadian border into Buffalo on February 22 to visit military bases and proceed to Washington, DC. Though they do not expect that they will be permitted access to bases, their main objectives are to draw media attention so as to influence American public opinion, point out the hypocrisy in the Bush administration's rhetoric and tactics, and to reframe public perception of the US role in world politics. Learn more about the movement at <www.rootingoutevil.org>, and join them as they cross the border!
Become the Change
Become the Change, named after the words of Mahatma Gandhi, is one of roughly 15 organizations throughout the world which is utilizing the voluntary Human Shield anti-war tactic. An initial group of 350 people from around the world departed for Iraq in January as the first wave of Become the Change's shield, and participants are staying with families throughout Iraq. The concept behind a Human Shield is that with enough media attention, the US will have a huge public relations problem if it attacks civilian areas where a substantial number of Americans and citizens from ally nations are present. Some other organizations which have been sending Human Shield and Witness Groups to Iraq are the Universal Kinship Society, Voices in the Wilderness, Nonviolent Peaceforce Canada, and the Christian Peace Teams.
For more information or to help send medical supplies with team members, please visit <www.becomethechange.org>.
In November 2002, Private Wilfredo Torres of Rochester, NY took a courageous step, setting an example for other GI's and reservists. At a Veterans Day anti-war rally, he took the podium to announce that he had left the army and would refuse to participate in a US led war in Iraq. When he returned to the army as an AWOL to resolve his case, a reporter from Rolling Stone phoned the base at Ft. Knox to speak with him. The base command thought it best to resolve the problem quickly, and Torres was released the next morning with an Other than Honorable discharge.
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Peaceful Tomorrows was formed by families personally affected by the 9/11 tragedies who seek to break the endless cycle of violence and retaliation engendered by war. As President Bush attempts to link Iraq with September 11th, Peaceful Tomorrows has been compelled to prevent another war in their names. They have sent a delegation to Iraq to visit hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages and water treatment facilities and to exchange stories with Iraqi civilians. They also wrote a letter to President Bush asking the administration to reconsider the use of military force in Iraq and to stop using their family members' deaths as a cry for war. They received a response from Condoleeza Rice which did not address their concerns; they continue to request a meeting with her and the President. Support them at <www.peacefultomorrows.org>.
Arms Freight Boycott
by UK Train Operators
In January, English Welsh and Scottish Railway drivers refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition destined for British forces being deployed to Iraq. The shipment was headed to the Glen Douglas Base in Scotland, Europe's largest NATO weapons store. This revolt was the first such industrial action by UK workers for decades; dockers also went on strike in 1973 to hinder the transport of arms to Chile after the assassination of Salvador Allende, and in 1920 when weapons were addressed to anti-Bolsheviks after the Russian revolution.
New York University Peace Coalition
Across the country, student groups have been active in the anti-war movement. Among them, NYU students have kept quite busy busy, that is, walking out of class to protest war on Iraq. In November, hundreds of NYU students joined 2,000 high-school and university students in a citywide student walkout. Other creative NYU Peace Coalition actions have included getting on camera at an MTV event while wearing "No War on Iraq" t-shirts, organizing an 8-hour sit-in at Hillary Clinton's office, and a "Dirty Water Bottle" campaign to illustrate the state of Iraq's water facilities due to sanctions and war. They have conducted massive teach-ins and die-ins and have also participated in virtually every protest on the east coast. For more information, visit their website at <nyupeacecoalition.com>.
Becky has been volunteering at the Peace Council since October. Her mother accompanied her to the DC protest.