Prison Threat To Anti-War Protester

ON THE day that war on Iraq began tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands of school and college students left their classrooms and took to the streets.

They were showing their outrage at Blair’s determination to continue with the war against Iraq despite the British population’s overwhelming opposition.

Faced with the sheer scale of strikes, and the school students’ audacity, in many areas the school authorities, politicians and police had no choice but to allow the demonstrations and strikes to go ahead unhindered.

As one Whitehall insider was quoted (Financial Times 22 March): “If the government told the police to get tough and told the kids you can’t protest, people would tell us that Britain has become like Iraq under Saddam Hussein.”

However, Lewisham police were among those who appeared to decide to ignore such propaganda niceties. Instead they used numbers and force to stop school students participating in the Parliament Square protests.

Students boarded a number 185 bus to go to parliament. The police halted and held up the bus before physically removing them, several of whom had their parents’ permission to go to parliament.

In doing so they arrested International Socialist Resistance (ISR) coordinator Karl Debbaut and two other campaigners. Charges have been dropped against the other two, but Karl is still charged with ‘assault on a police officer’ – charges that we totally refute.

If he is not cleared Karl faces the possibility of a six-month prison sentence. We appeal to every reader of the socialist to support the campaign to drop the charges against Karl Debbaut.

As far as ISR is aware, Karl is the only anti-war protester in the country to face imprisonment for taking part in school student led demonstrations.

This is about more than the wrongful arrest of anti-war protesters. It is about school students’ right to make their voices heard.

What you can do:

Add your name to the list of supporters of the campaign by contacting ISR (details below).

Ask your trade union branch or community organisation to support the campaign.

Join the lobby of Karl’s court hearing: Wednesday 24 September, 1 pm. Belmarsh Magistrates Court (next to prison), Belmarsh Rd, London SE28.

Come to the ISR meeting at 2pm on Saturday 20 September 2003 at Moonbow Jake’s Cafe, New Cross Road, London SE14

For more information or to offer your support contact the campaign via ISR:

020 8558 7947

[email protected]

PO Box 858, London, E11 1YG