The immediate response from thousands of school students when the US war started was to leave school, strike and march. The central square in Stockholm was once more packed with ten thousand school students, as well as other squares around the country.
Day X. Sweden.
Tens of thousands of students strike
’School students against the war’ have prepared for several months for Day X, the day the war would start. According to the reports we have received from the strikes and demos there were 10,000 in Stockholm, 3,500 in Gothenburg, 1,000 in Umeå, 600 in Kalmar, 500 in Luleå, 350 in Eskilstuna, 300 in Skellefteå, 300 in Hudiksvall and 125 in Sundsvall. This was all part of the international strike of school students.
The day before the protests, the school students won support from the chair person of the Swedish TUC, Wanja Lundby-Wedin. She said that ’School students against the war’ were doing a "great job".
On the Stockholm demo there was a speech from a representative of the tube drivers’ trade union in, Jannis Konstantis. His union have demanded that there national union (union for service and communication) should declare a political strike against the war. The tube drivers are planning a four-minute stoppage on Friday against the war.
One school student strike leader after another gave reports and spoke against the war.
"There is something dangerous happening in the world. There is a country led by a ’power mad’ leader that uses weapons of mass destruction. And it’s not Saddam Hussein I’m speaking of – it’s George Bush", said Maia Hansson, who brought out 120 students from her school.
Minette Andersson said we can stop the war and that it has been done before by youth and workers. Mattias Bernhardsson, the chairperson of Elevkampanjen, gave the same message. He led the chants between the speakers for over two hours.
The march ended in a park called Gärdet, which has a history of working class protests. This was as close to the US embassy we were allowed to come.
Storm of protests
All demos were well organised without incidents. In some places the school principals tried to stop students from attending the strikes. In Eskilstuna a bureaucrat from the council sent out a media announcement against the strike. That led to a storm of protests from school students and parents and compelled him to send out a new message saying that the strike was "a success and positive"!
In Umeå, 1,000 took part in the demo, with participation from eight schools. There was a speaker from every school and also a speaker from Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS, CWI section in Sweden), Ingrid Eriksson, who is a councillor for RS in Umeå. 250 participated in a meeting after the demo, discussing how the struggle should continue.
’School students against the war’ is a campaign started by the socialist youth movement Elevkampanjen (ISR in Sweden), after an initiative from RS youth. It is now also support by other youth organisations, including the Green youth and Muslim students. School Students against the War is growing fast and in the Stockholm area alone there are activists in 120 schools. In most school there are committees against the war.