War in Afghanistan
CWI anti-war activities
Ten thousand rally against war in Berlin…five thousand school students take strike action
A demonstration of more than 10,000 marched through Berlin against the war on October 8, reports comrade Sascha from SAV, German section of the CWI. The broad anti war coalition, which we are a part of, called it.
During the opening rally three SAV members were amongst the seven speakers. Comrade Daniel chaired the rally, Nelli, a young school student, spoke for the school students’ anti war committee, and I spoke for SAV. We sold 22 papers and raised 70 Deutschmarks for the fighting fund.
We distributed many leaflets for a SAV public meeting on Thursday and a school students’ meeting on Friday.
After the demonstration more than ten comrades intervened in a protest against a fascist NPD demonstration "against the war". As we were the only ones with a megaphone we could set the tone. The fascists’ demo broke up ten minutes after we arrived.
All the comrades here are extremely enthusiastic about today’s successes. Now we have to concentrate on recruitment and building International Resistance out of it.
Earlier on October 8 5,000 school students struck in Berlin against the war on Afghanistan. The strike was called by a committee ‘School Students against the War’, which was formed by International Resistance and German CWI members. We organised school students from over 20 schools in the last few weeks. This has been the biggest school students’ demonstration for a long time. Several young CWI members gave speeches, which were regularly interrupted by strong applause.
The SAV got a very good reception at the demonstration and we sold 50 papers, and collected 170 Deutschmarks for the fighting fund. A further 220 Deutschmarks was raised for the school students’ committee.
There were many attempts by some teachers and Head masters to intimidate school students. In one school the headmaster locked the doors to keep the school students inside the school. In another school students were forbidden to leave the school even if they had no courses! A teacher threatened two young comrades, saying they would be put on trial for manslaughter (!) if something happened to a school student on the demo!
The demo was supported by the PDS group in the Berlin Federal State parliament and we received some practical support (such as megaphones) from trade unions. The Berlin mayor said that the actions of the school students were an " unexcused absence from school, but nothing more" which can be interpreted as a signal to the headmasters not to take action against strikers.
All over Germany demonstrations took place yesterday and are also taking place today (October 9).
1000 on anti-war demo in Stockholm
On Monday October 8 there were anti-war protests in around ten cities in Sweden against the bombings, writes Marcus Kollbrunner. Most had around 200 participants, and in Gothenburg there were 400. In Stockholm 1,000 people joined the protest called by the Coalition Against War and Terrorism, which was initiated by us. We had two speakers and one of the two chairs. The Coalition in Stockholm is now made up of 30-40 organisations, Left and immigrant groups. The coalition is calling for a demo next Saturday, which could be quite bigger than today’s demo. There will be anti-war demos in several other cities on that day.
Over 5,000 rally in SF Bay Area
On October 7 the SF Bay Area Branch of Socialist Alternative (SA) mobilised its forces for a teach-in, reports comrade Carlos. It organised by the SF Town Hall Committee Against War and Hate (4 members of SA sit on its 14-Member steering committee). Our two big banners calling for ‘NO War, No Racism, Defend Civil Liberties’ were the only banners at the event together with a banner of the coalition with the same slogans. There were several speakers, including comrade Carlos who spoke about the effect of the war amongst immigrant communities and making the concrete motion to mobilise all the forces of the coalition to support the Immigrant Rights Movement’s March on October 13. There were about 1,700 people present.
After the teach in, all the people organised into a contingent and joined another 800 people from another coalition in a three hour march throughout the working class neighbourhoods of the City. Our banners were among the most prominent ones. We sold/distributed about 1,500 newspapers/SA statements; 3,000 leaflets with our positions; 2,000 leaflets inviting people to the October 13 march. The demo was joined by hundreds of other people and swelled to 5,000. We got 120 new names of people interested in SA.
On October 8 the SF Bay Area Branch helped to mobilise around 600 students for a rally at noon in UC Berkeley. Comrade Carlos was one of the featured speakers and he was very well received. Journalists present interviewed him and he is now scheduled to appear as the only guest in a half hour TV Show about "Terrorism, War and Immigrants."
‘Not in my name’ – thousands on NY anti-war demonstrations
On Sunday, October 6th, the SA branch participated at a larger rally at Union Square and a march to 42nd Street. About 3,000 people attended the rally. This a very positive event because it signalled that even at the start of the conflict there would be opposition to the war in NYC. There was a much more pronounced presence of young college students at the rally. We distributed 600 copies of a special flier that we produced and sold 50 Statements and a small number of newspapers. The mood was good and it represented a certain revival for the crumbling NYC liberal Left.
SA comrade Eljeer was prominently displayed in Newsday, a daily metropolitan newspaper with a large circulation. He was photographed at the Oct 7 rally on Sunday having a heated discussion with a pro-war Zionist youth. He was also interviewed by Channel 4 station, but it never made the air, probably because of its radical message. The anti-war rally in Times Square yesterday (Oct 8) was the first in New York since the bombing began on Sunday, and the crowd was fairly small probably 100-150 strong. There was quite a large rally of thousands the day before, and perhaps this was the reason for Monday’s small turnout. The anti-war demo was heckled and jeered at by a rowdy group of pro-war types.
We sold 15 copies of our statement, ‘End The Cycle Of Terrorism’ and distributed 100 leaflets and collected names on our sign-up sheet. One demonstrator gave us $5.00 for the statement. Today we will be intervening in a meeting of the Hunter Coalition against War and Racism. We will also be fly posting for our public meeting this Wednesday at the Hunter College Socialist Club.
Significantly, the healthcare workers union 1199 has come out against the war and a large number of union officials have signed an anti-war statement.
Comrades are reporting some very good discussions at their workplaces as well as an increase in anxiety and fear about what is going to happen.
Since September 11 despite the difficult mood that existed, comrades intervened quite successfully raising issues about why the bombings took place and what was behind the tragedy.
Among some workers there was a mood of quiet scepticism about the situation and a thirst to understand. For many people this was the first time that they had to consider international policy and the world situation. There was a period of three weeks when discussions were taking place about the situation in the Middle East, terrorism, US foreign policy, etc.
We intervened with the SA statement, ‘End the Cycle of Terrorism’, the CWI statement, Socialism Today magazine and the SA newspaper at Hunter College teach-ins, which were attended by a couple of hundred people.
On Saturday, September 29, several comrades intervened with the same material at a small rally / march (about 300) at 42nd Street against the war preparations. Three people said they were interested in joining us. We sold about 30 copies of the US Statement, about 10 newspapers and 3 copies of Socialism Today. (NY reports by comrades Alan and Margaret).
The Chicago SA branch intervened in two anti-war protests of thousands on 8-9 October.
Student walk-out planned in Boston
In the wake of the US bombing of Afghanistan, students from five UMass (university) colleges will walk-out of classes and gather at central spots on their respective campuses in protest, reports comrade Chris.
Three thousand march in Melbourne
The Socialist Party (Australian CWI section) made up a contingent on Monday’s emergency anti-war rally and a march in Melbourne, which attracted around 2-3000 people, reports Jim O’Connor.
We distributed an updated colander of anti-war events. We raised A$58 in paper sales and fighting fund. We are finding that our large and artistic banner is attracting people to our stall. We are participating in the broader movement and simultaneously reaching out to high school students by leafleting schools. We are setting up a group called ‘Youth Against the War’ and received ten names of people interested in joining the SP in less than an hour during the city street stall last Friday. We are also setting up local anti-war groups in selected suburbs.
We are gearing up for the federal election campaign on November 10. The major parties, Labour and Liberal, are pro-war. We are standing comrade Steve Jolly and will be making the war an election issue.
We are attempting to put forward our socialist ideas on platforms at the big anti-war rallies. Groups such as the ISO (SWP) and Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) tend to have strident rhetoric and slogans that are out of touch with the current consciousness of the working class.
Weekly anti-war meetings and rallies continue. The next big one is on Saturday.
London Socialist Party members on the first protests against war
Socialist Party members in Britain were out on a demonstration within 30 minutes of the bombings starting on Sunday 7 October, reports Ken Smith. Out of a hastily organised demonstration of 200 we had nearly 40 comrades.
We got a good response and sold over 30 papers. One comrade sold eight papers to passers-by alone. Two comrades, Lois Austin and Nancy Taaffe, were also quoted in the national press the following day.
Lois was recognised as the leader of the demonstration. Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor in Coventry and national chair of the Socialist Alliance also issued a press release and was interviewed on two regional radio stations.
At present, Dave is also likely to be the Socialist Alliance speaker on the big anti-war demo, which is scheduled for this Saturday, 13 October.
The following day (Monday) there was an anti-war protest of over 2,000 in London. We sold over 150 papers on this and got hundreds of names for our anti-war campaign. Three people joined the party on the demo.
Again we got good press coverage out of this, and Dave Nellist was described in The Independent (London) the following day as being the organiser of the Stop the War protests.
There has generally been a good response on our paper sales and public meetings. Although some areas reported a flat mood just before the bombings started. But, nevertheless there have been some very good successes, including in Coventry, where comrades sold 67 papers. Bristol also sold 120 papers over two days.
Almost all of our public meetings so far have had new people at them and new people have joined the party in most areas as a result. Also, in some areas comrades are playing a leading role in the anti-war coalitions and some comrades have been platform speakers at their public meetings.
Five hundred outside the US embassy in Brussels
On October 8 there was an anti-war activity in Brussels initiated by a Flemish peace organisation called ‘Vrede’ (it is mainly a study circle that was originally linked with the Communist Party but which now works independently and is attracting some). Comrade Els explains that many other organisations were involved in this activity, as well as the Flemish Christian Union. Between 400 and 500 people attended the rally outside the US embassy. Twelve comrades sold between 25 and 30 papers. We had a two-language International Resistance leaflet, which advertised the national school student strike on 19 October. The strike was announced at the protest. We called for protests at the EU summit not only to campaign against neo-liberal policies but also against the war.
Building the anti-war movement in the Czech Republic
Immediately after bombing started we sent out a public statement in the name of our organisation and called for a demonstration in the centre of Prague, reports Vasek Votruba, (Socialisticka Alternativa Budoucnost).
Today (8 0ctober) we collected around 20 signatures against war, gave out 50 leaflets and sold 20 issues of our paper and 30 special statements, including a history of Afghanistan.
On the most recent anti-war demo there were around 50 to 100 people. We had Socialisticka alternativa Budoucnost banner – ‘Poverty, War, Terrorism = Capitalism’. We collected 30 signatures, sold 30 issues of paper and more than 40 statements.
Unfortunately there is very strong pro-War propaganda by the government and media. Most people think there is not alternative to the "bombing of terrorists". But around 20% in polls stand against this. We try to show them an alternative with our slogans and propaganda: No to war! No to terrorism! which have been quite successful slogan. We have seven names of people who want to help us with this campaign. We have to give the real facts, stand against government and media propaganda and build support for another protest/demo. The Humanist Movement plans a demo for 19 October.
Globalise Resistance just collected signatures under the vague petition ‘Stop the War’ at the last rally. They do not talk about a solution to Afghanistan, they have no leaflets, and they have no papers. It shows us the importance of the CWI, and to have reports from US, Britain and other sections and how serious our approach is, even if in an unfavourable situation. People who meet us now know this.
We got an e-mail message from a young student who visited our web page, agrees with our statements, and want to help with our campaign against school fees.
Four thousand rally in Tokyo
The international press reports that around 4,000 people rallied and demonstrated in Tokyo, Japan in protest against terrorism and a possible U.S. retaliatory war. The rally was organised by the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and peace organisations.
Protests in five Dutch cities
On Sunday there were hastily organised pickets and demos in five cities, reports Patrick from Offensief, Dutch section of the CWI. On Monday, they took place in twelve cities, such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The turnout included 300 in Amsterdam, and 500 in the northern town of Groningen. Other demos were smaller.
There will be a big national demo at Saturday 20 October in Amsterdam, organised by the same broad committee (now including 165 groups) that held the 7,000 strong rally on 30 September.
Offensief was mentioned in a special article in a rightwing/liberal national quality paper. It discussed the relationship between the anti-capitalist and peace-movement. Ronald was quoted as a member of Offensief, saying that if the war were still on at the time of the Brussels demo, it would turn into an anti-war-demo.
Portuguese Left fails to seriously organise anti-war protests
Neither the Portuguese Left parties nor the trade union movement have been taking initiatives against the war, reports Francisco from Alternativa Socialista. Up to now, only an organisation inspired by the Partido Comunista (communist party) has done anything, advertising a rally in front of the Israeli embassy to mark the first anniversary of the Intifada.
We in Alternativa Socialista have translated of the CWI statement on the US bombings, as well as the statement of Socialist Alternative in the USA and we will also publish Trotsky’s article on individual terrorism. We have also sent a statement to Left Bloc (a broad Left party) members, union members and others on the Left.