Home | SchNEWS OF THE WORLD
Square, Nov 18th Pic: Lawrence Renee
All We Are Saying...
Report From UK anti-war Movement
In the aftermath of 11 September - and particularly once the attack
on Afghanistan started - the 'anti-war movement' took flight. In
the first week after the bombing started, there were around 400
known protests in 40 countries. 100,000 gathered in Rome, 30,000
in Naples, and despite all the blind ignorant patriotism and media
rubbish, there were mass demonstrations in the US including 25,000
marching in Washington. All sorts of anti-war coalitions and networks
sprang up all over Britain:
Muscling in immediately in London were the Socialist Worker Party/Socialist
Alliance/Globalise Resistance grouping who convened what it hoped
would be a Britain-wide coalition to Stop the War (STW) on the usual
'committee' basis (SchNEWS are gutted we weren't part of that -
ed). As it turns out many groups around the country preferred to
work with their own networks, staying out of the London STW framework.
A grassroots anti-war movement mobilised all over the country,
in all sorts of amazing ways. Of course there were the headline
events, such as the massive CND and Stop The War coalition demonstrations
in London including the 100,000 strong 'Not In Our Name' march on
November 18th, and 40,000 marching in solidarity with Palestine
More at the grass roots level: a vigil was held every day in Bristol
outside the Hippodrme, and continued all through the winter.
Three coalitions emerged in Wales, one of them being the North
Wales 'Coalition for a Just Peace', initiated by peace activists
also involved in Welsh language activism and Plaid Cymru. As in
Wales, the Scottish activist scene saw amicable relations between
different elements: Women in Black, religious groups, trade unions,
nationalists, greens, CND and other peace groups, and the Scottish
Socialist Party all came together to form and support the 'Scottish
Coalition for Justice not War'.
The Quakers played a role in the anti-war movement by opening up
their meeting houses for action planning. Amongst others the Newcastle
Stop The War group came through this - and went on to function as
a loose network rather than a formal 'committee' system as preferred
by the Stop The War bods.
Up and down the country groups - such as the 'Justice Not Vengeance'
affinity group in London, and the ongoing 'Direct Action Against
War Now' network (DAAWN) - held vigils and weekly meetings for months.
Groups also campaigned against anti-Muslim and racist prejudice.
In February 2002 ARROW and Voices in the Wilderness UK hosted a
visit by two relatives of Craig Amundson, who died in the Pentagon
on 11 September. Craig's brother Ryan and his sister-in-law Kelly
Campbell spoke out against military retaliation, and announced the
formation of 'Peaceful Tomorrows', an anti-war network of US September
11 relatives www.peacefultomorrows.org.
There have been all kinds of civil disobedience, including the
ARROW-initiated sit-down in Whitehall on 13 October 2001, when 600
people blocked off one side of Whitehall for an hour and a half;
several blockades at Northwood, the headquarters of Britain's expeditionary
forces (organised by the 'D10' group); lock-ons at Downing Street;
lamp-post climbing in Parliament Square; sit-downs during some of
the big marches (organised by 'DAAWN'); and 'die-ins' in Manchester.
In 2002 much of the focus of the anti-war movement moved to the
threat of war on Iraq, and Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine.
The media manipulated public attention by treating the war as having
finished when the Taliban were taken from power - but the bombing
and military presence continues (as it does in Iraq a decade after
the Gulf War).
Thanks to Milan Rai
ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War)