Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/291/14018
10,000 rally in Stockholm
AT LUNCHTIME on 5 March, Sergels square in Stockholm was filled by school students demanding an immediate stop to war preparations against Iraq.
With 10,000 this strike was the biggest school students' protest since 1995.
It was organised by School Students Against War, a campaign launched by Elevkampanjen/ISR. School students from 100 schools joined the strike and the demonstration to the riksdag (parliament).
Bilbo Garansson spoke for School Students Against War, of which he was a co-founder in December, and for his school: "War means mass terror and we will step up our struggle to stop it. Our strike sets an example. If workers in Sweden and internationally also strike we can force governments to retreat".
The chair of a major branch of council workers' union Kommunal gave her support to School Students Against War and urged other Kommunal branches to join the Network against War.
Diana Castro, speaking for a school that was on strike the whole day. said: "It is impossible to create democracy through bombs. Saddam's a terrible dictator who should be overthrown. That can only be done by the people with the support from youth and workers all over the world."
At parliament, we gave in a resolution condemning Swe-dish arms exports and the war profits of shipping companies and questioned MPs.
A leading Social Democrat Urban Ahlin, refused to condemn war if the UN sanctioned one. The crowd shouted him down. One of the most popular slogans was "No to war - with or without UN support."
Elin Gauffin of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden) said: "Bush and his friends have shares in the oil industry and their aim is to get hold of the oil and increase their profits. This world order can't be allowed to continue like this."
We now aim for a general strike in all schools on Day X - if the day of massive bombing arrives.
Northern Ireland: School Students Defy Expulsion Threats
SCHOOL STRIKES were a huge success in Northern Ireland. At least 10,000 school students took part in walk-outs, rallies or in other forms of protest in the schools.
The action was called by Youth Against the War (YAW - campaign set up by Socialist Youth/ISR in Northern Ireland) and by members of Socialist Youth.
Every rally was a YAW rally. There were front- page articles in the press, radio and TV coverage. YAW now has a mass base in many schools and is known across Northern Ireland.
In NEWRY where new Socialist Youth members did impressive work in building YAW groups in all the main schools, at least 1,000 were on the demonstration, despite the authorities locking pupils in. Students escaped to go on the demo.
In DERRY, at least 1,000 school students came out, including in schools where YAW had only one person present. School students marched in impromptu demos to the centre of town.
BELFAST saw the most confrontational approach from the school authorities but still the strike took off.
In Grosvenor High School (east Belfast) the gates were locked. A Socialist Youth member led 200 students in a march to the barred exit for a protest against the war and against their imprisonment in the school.
Next door in Orangefield Secondary School 200 students were chased around the playing fields by teachers but eventually managed to get out.
In the Dominican school in North Belfast, students were threatened with expulsion if they took part but 300 people came out. In another school, Hazelwood, where the school authorities came to an agreement that sixth formers would be allowed out on strike, fifth-formers broke the agreement and came out as well.
In OMAGH we organised marches from the main schools and held a lunchtime rally of around 400 in the town centre. In COLERAINE we held an after school march and rally in the town centre. Over 200 attended.
Despite intimidation, the walkouts were a huge success. The TV news covered two of the rallies, showing pictures of chanting pickets at school gates in Belfast.
School students are extremely angry at the methods used to keep them in school and are now even more determined to strike on Day X.
Most teachers refused to participate in the intimidation. This was done by senior staff, principals and vice principals. We're approaching the teachers' unions.
The FBU are also issuing a statement condemning the locking of schools gates as illegal in that it contravenes fire regulations.
Walkouts in Dublin
YOUTH AGAINST the War (YAW), the campaign set up by Socialist Youth, the Irish section of ISR, organised a successful walkout of school students in North Dublin.
School students walked out of school and assembled at the county council offices in Swords to protest at the drive to war and the Irish government's shameful role in letting US warplanes refuel in Shannon Airport.
Over 150 students took part and 30 joined YAW committing themselves to organising walkouts on "Day X". We now plan to establish a Socialist Youth branch in the area to co-ordinate action in all the schools on the day the war begins.
We received enormous media coverage for our call for widespread walkouts and strikes on "Day X". We plan to call for national lunchtime protests and possible walkouts next week and to set up YAW groups in as many schools as possible. On "Day X" we're considering a nationwide school student strike.
Matt Waine, Dublin
In The Socialist 14 March 2003: