Building for Winter Soldier hearings

March 14, 2008

ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS across the country are preparing to lend support to "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan," a four-day conference scheduled to be held March 13-16 in Washington, D.C., to shed light on the atrocities committed by U.S. occupation forces.

In Seattle, 40 people gathered at Seattle Central Community College on March 6 to watch the documentary about the original 1971 "Winter Soldier" investigation into atrocities committed during the Vietnam War.

Sponsored by the Antiwar Collective and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), the video showing was followed by a panel discussion featuring nine IVAW members (three of whom are absent without leave).

When a member of the Muslim Student Association asked panelists to describe how racism was used to dehumanize Iraqis, one IVAW member recalled how one of the soldiers in his unit was using racial slurs like "haji" in the Kuwait airport, before they even arrived in Iraq.

The Antiwar Collective and IVAW encouraged everyone to watch the upcoming Winter Soldier testimony and to participate in future antiwar actions on campus.

In Amherst, Mass., the Western Massachusetts' chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network kicked off its "Week of Action Against the War" on March 4 with a speak-out on the Student Union steps of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Students from the Campus Antiwar Network and the International Socialist Organization spoke about the need to call for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, saying that government funding could be better spent on health care for veterans and paying the people of Iraq reparations for the devastation they've suffered under the occupation.

In San Francisco, approximately 50 Bay Area antiwar student activists joined IVAW member Mike Blake and Iraqi journalist Salam Talib on March 7 to strategize about the way forward for the antiwar movement.

The speakers shared personal experiences describing the horrors of the occupation of Iraq and U.S. imperial strategy. Blake described how the U.S. has intentionally intervened to create civil war in Iraq in order to justify the continued occupation. Talib talked about life for the people of Iraq before and after Saddam, and the Iraqis' bitter disappointment about the destruction caused by the U.S.

Blake explained that in the three years that he has been a member of IVAW, it has slowly but steadily grown from an organization of 200 to one of 700--and advised students to continue to give support to veterans with platforms at antiwar events.

Katia Chernyshov, Amy Dorris and Kate Johnson contributed to this article.

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