Iraq: No to war – Building youth against the war

In recent months massive anti-war demonstrations have taken place in Europe and significantly in the US itself. With the outbreak of war these demonstrations will not diminish, but will instead dramatically grow in size and anger as the brutality of this war is brought home.

Anti-war movement in Ireland.

This month 12 years ago, the US launched a brutal war on Iraq that resulted in the deaths of 250,000 people.

Now George Bush junior is planning an equally horrific war to defend the interests of US imperialism in the region. The right wing Fianna Fail government of Bertie Ahern in Southern Ireland has dragged Irish people into this bloody drive to war by allowing US warplanes refuel at Shannon Airport. Members of Socialist Youth, the youth wing of the Socialist Party in Ireland, describe below recent campaigning activities against the war plans of Bush and Ahern. CWI Online

Building Youth Against War

Here in Ireland, the focus must be on building a mass anti-war movement to oppose the use of Shannon Airport, but also to oppose the rightwing character of this government who would prepare to back Bush than deal with issues such as homelessness or low pay.

It is young people throughout the world, and indeed in Ireland, who have the most to lose from this war and the developing world recession, as our future is increasingly dominated by poverty, wars for profit and instability. For this reason, Socialist Youth has launched, Youth Against War, as an active campaign open to all young people to oppose this war.

We call on all young people to join and get active in Youth Against War. We are establishing anti-war groups in schools. We are distributing leaflets and collecting a petition to show that Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fail do not represent us. 15 February is the international day of action against war. Protests will be held in capital cities all across the world. We intend to make sure schools are represented in Dublin on that day.

Anti-war campaigning in the North

Thousands of troops are being mobilised as we speak, from California to Southampton. Troops, war ships and air force personnel are getting ready to go to war against Iraq.

Over the last weeks the drive to war has intensified and it now looks more than likely that war will be declared by George Bush Jnr. in the short term with or without UN backing. This war however, is not a crusade for democracy or a "war on terror", it is a war for western oil interests, plain and simple.

The effects of this war will be devastating on the Iraqi people. 60% of Iraqi people depend on the UN sanctioned oil-for-food programme, which means in real terms that millions of Iraqis have been living on less than $0.65 worth of food per day for the last ten years.

Not to mention the fact that over one million children have died over the last ten years due to malnourishment and lack of basic medical supplies. The people who will die in this war are not Saddam Hussein’s cronies, who will live in their bunkers for the duration, but ordinary Iraqis who are in Saddam’s conscript army, together with defenceless women and children.

What can we do to stop this bloody drive to war? We can organise and demonstrate, win people to our viewpoint that this war is just another war for oil. Most importantly though, we have to register, every single one of us, to our friends, family, school and the politicians that we do not support this war for oil; that we do not believe the lies and propaganda of Bush and Blair, nor those of Saddam’s brutal dictatorship.

That is why Socialist Youth has taken the step to set up Youth Against War, as a broad organisation for all young people who are opposed to this war. We will organise in workplaces or schools, including organising meetings against the war and protests.

The most important thing is that we start to organise and demonstrate now. Socialist Youth is fighting for a socialist society where people’s needs not profits come first.

Youth Against War activist speaks out

Youth Against the War (YAW) activist Anita O’Flynn is Student Council President at ScoilPol boarding school in County Cork.

Anita, in her capacity as Student Council President, was asked to address the end of year school assembly. She was meant to do a reading from the Bible but instead stood up in front of all of the students, teachers and nuns and read out a statement she had prepared about Bush’s preparations for a war against Iraq.

The stunned nuns threatened to suspend Anita from school but due to support she received from other pupils, teachers and parents, this threat was lifted. Anita and other YAW activists in her school have gone on to produce an anti-war newsletter. YAW and Socialist Youth school students intend to follow Anita’s courageous example – to organise YAW campaign groups in schools.

Cillian Gillespie and Chris Loughlin

From the January 2003 edition of Socialist Voice, monthly paper of the Socialist Party in Ireland

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February 2003