Activists gear up for Saturdays antiwar march
By DANIEL STURM
At their Thursday press conference, peace activists of the Greater Lansing Network against War in Iraq, which represents 35 organizations in the area, said they werent impressed by Powells attempt to convince U.N. Security Council members that a pre-emptive strike is necessary. "The Secretary of States presentation did not reveal anything that the American public doesnt already know," said GLNAWI organizer Bob Alexander.
A day before Powells presentation, the director of the U.N. inspection team, Hans Blix, told the British newspaper Guardian that there was "no evidence of mobile biological weapons laboratories, or of Iraq trying to foil inspectors by moving equipment before his teams arrived." Blix also said that the inspectors had "no persuasive indications" of Iraq al Qaeda links, which has been another key component of Powells allegation. There was also no evidence of Iraq sending scientists out of the country, nor of Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists, monitoring the weapons inspectors conversations.
day after Powells speech, British News Channel Four TV reported
that the bulk of the 19-page British intelligence dossier that Powell
praised as an up-to-the-minute intelligence analysis was actually a
plagiarized document copied from three academic articles -- one written
by a graduate student, and one paper being more than five years old.
The punctuation marks and typographic errors of the original articles
Beth Monteith, a minister of the Fellowship for Today in East Lansing, pointed out that veterans, world leaders, 41 Nobel laureates, and most organized religions in the United States were opposed to this war. "We are unwilling to stand by as the citizens, as Germany did in the 1930s, and allow our country under a powerful and popular leader, to become a machine bent on violence, death and destruction."Monteith called upon Lansing-area residents to sign a resolution presented to City Council last week, asking the President to call back the 150,000 forces deployed to the Middle East, "allowing our country to again become a promoter of peace among nations." She also pointed out that the deaths and disability claims of Gulf War veterans were related to the 320 tons of radioactive uranium dropped on Iraq in the allied bombings.
Nearly one-third of United States tanks during the Gulf War had been armed with munitions made from depleted uranium-238, exposing the soldiers who manned the machines to whole body gamma radiation. Helen Caldicott, president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, reported that Iraqi pediatricians in the city of Basra found six to 12 times as many incidences of childhood leukemia and cancer, and that congenital malformations have doubled. "Yet because of the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United States and the United Nations, they have no access to antibiotics, chemotherapeutic drugs or effective radiation machines to treat their patients," Caldicott wrote in an Oct. 6 Baltimore Sun editorial.
An Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace member, Andy Hartmann, said the administrations war against terrorism was targeted equally against people of color and poor, "which is intrinsically linked to international belligerence on the part of very few people that have an awful lot of power." Hartmann spoke enthusiastically about the antiwar resolution approved by the Ann Arbor City Council in December 2002. He suggested that Lansing activists work with their Council members, in order to get "any" peace resolution passed.
The two Lansing antiwar resolutions, which include proposals from the Green Party and from GLNAWI, will be discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13. The GLNAWI resolution was on the agenda for public comment on Feb. 3, but no one attended to discuss it. GLNAWI leaders were busy in a meeting with the mayors assistant, David Wiener, to discuss the permit for the Feb. 15 antiwar march and rally. Both resolutions are scheduled for discussion this Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Councils Committee of the Whole meeting.
The city government legislative assistant, Ron Wilson, was skeptical about the outcome, saying that City Council doesnt usually discuss "any issues of national concern."
But Lansing activists believe that the peace movements momentum will grow even stronger after the demonstration this Saturday. The antiwar group Direct Action has also called for a breakaway march with street theater, blockades, lockdowns, weapons inspections, a "die in," music, and "whatever your hearts desire and minds can think of."
Responding to the criticism, Alexander said that the antiwar activists should only do "one thing at the time."
"My effort has been to get my Democratic brothers and sisters in the area to stand up," Alexander added. He said the Ingham County Democratic Party recently approved an antiwar resolution, and that campaigns in several other counties were also underway. When Michigan residents march to the State Capitol this Saturday, Alexander will be in Detroit campaigning for an antiwar resolution at the statewide Democratic Party convention.
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