War in Afghanistan

CWI anti-war activities

Thousands protest in Melbourne against the war

Last Sunday (30 September) about 2000 people turned up to the weekly anti-war protest in Melbourne, writes Jim O’Connor from the CWI section in Australia, the Socialist Party (SP).

The SP is moving into action, helping to build the existing anti-war movement and simultaneously reaching out to new people.

There was a successful after-work rally at 5pm in Melbourne on Wednesday 3 October. It was vibrant with many youth and a sizable Afro-Australian contingent from the Somali community. There was about 1,000 marching. SP members present distributed a leaflet and an anti-war activists’ calendar of events. We also carried an excellent banner.

It is school holiday time here. In Melbourne city we had a very successful street stall on 2 October, aimed mainly at youth.

The Commonwealth Business Forum has been called off. Big anti-capitalist protests had been planned for this event.

There is an initiative to set up a tent city/vigil in the City Square, which will be a 24-hour on-going peace vigil and anti-war organising centre. This will probably go on for 3 days, depending on the response.

Next week we (SP) are having stalls outside schools to publicise a High School walkout as soon as the war/bombing starts.

We have decided to integrate the anti-war work into our federal election campaign. The election will be on November 10, 17 or 24. We will have local street meetings/rallies each Saturday in the constituency shopping centres.

If possible, we hope to put out daily anti-war bulletins and activists’ calendars.

Sydney SP comrades are also active, attending the last rally of about 800 on Saturday. They are doing local anti-war campaigning in Western city and the Blue Mountains area.

We have decided to make contact with the Muslim community to discuss how we can give solidarity against racism and invite them to our rallies to report on their situation.

Our candidate for Melbourne council elections, Denise Dudley, is performing well in the election pre-polling. Election day is next Saturday.

At our last Melbourne SP branch meeting we had an excellent discussion on world and regional perspectives and prospects for war. Comrades in Sydney and Perth participated by phone.

England and Wales (Socialist Party)

The SP and Socialist Students have received a terrific response to this year’s university freshers’ fairs, reports Kieran Roberts.

The issue of the war, in particular, drew streams of students to our stalls. We found widespread opposition to the war and a deep cynicism about the US’s motives. We sold 80 papers at Huddersfield Uni, 54 at Sheffield, over 50 at UWE, and 173 at Leeds.

Many students said they wanted to actively participate in the anti-war movement.

We will be holding public meetings at colleges across the country in the next few weeks. Meetings so far have been very successful.

A larger number than last year are joining Socialist Students, with, for example, 111 signing up in Swansea, 90 in Manchester and 64 in Leeds.

In the last two weeks 260 people have attended SP ‘No to war’ meetings in Hackney, Lewisham, Walthamstow, Hillingdon, and Hammersmith and Holborn, including over 75 new people. Most people turned up after having seen a poster or a leaflet. People attending originally come from many countries, such as South Africa, Turkey and Poland. They are looking for an analysis of events rather than just anti-war agitation.

A second ‘Stop The War’ meeting of over 200 took place in London on 2 October. Lois Austin of the SP called for a clear condemnation of the terror attacks in the US, as well as opposition to the war plans. If the anti-war movement is to develop, it is necessary to clearly stand against terror attacks that claim the lives of working people, she said. Unfortunately, the main Left group present, the SWP, opposed this approach. Lois also supported calls by the group ARROW for democratic elections to the Stop the War steering committee. Lois raised the need for the campaign to be broad, inclusive and democratic in order for it to attract wider numbers of youth and working class people.

Canada (Socialist Alternative)

Comrades also hope to establish a socialist club this year at George Brown College in Toronto, where we have one comrade just starting a course.

Around 250 people, including members of SA, attended a Toronto anti-war rally last Saturday, marching from the Provincial Legislature to the US Consulate. The crowds were mainly made up of people from the Left and new youth.

Last week twelve people attended a SA meeting at the University of Toronto (UoT) on the US bombings and against war. This was after little advertising. The UoT socialist club has the potential to grow rapidly.

France (Gauche Revolutionnaire)

We held a public meeting against the war, in Rouen, on Friday 28 September.

Generally however, there have been absolutely no campaigning whatsoever by any political organisation on the question of the US attacks and the threat of war. Only a few small community organisations are doing anything. This is why there have been no big protests.

However there is a great interest on the war issue among the general population.

There is also unfortunately a great deal of racial tension. The Arab population are scared (though many are very willing to discuss with Gauche Revolutionnaire (GR) members). GR plans to produce a special leaflet aimed at the Arab population. GR will also produce a new full issue of their paper, covering recent events.

Scotland (International Socialists)

An all-members’ meeting of comrades on 30 September discussed the international situation. Comrade Clare Doyle from the CWI also attended the meeting. Everyone found the discussion very useful.

Comrades have been doing street stalls against the war and have been surprised at the small amount of hostility they have encountered. In fact, there is a general increased interest in events and a searching for explanations, including in the workplaces.

A special ‘wrap-around’ addition on the war for the recent issue of the paper, ‘International Socialist’ is in production.

International Socialist Resistance (ISR) launch meetings are being prepared, including one in Glasgow and one in Dundee next week.

Italy, Germany, Spain…

Last weekend, the media said 40,000 people rallied in opposition to the war in Rome. The media also reported on 23,000 people participating in a "bicycling for peace" event in Germany.

Around 5,000 people attended a rally in Barcelona, calling for no Spanish involvement in the US war plans.

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