International Socialist resistance (ISR)
School and College Student Action Friday 7th March
A number of successful student actions took place today, organised by ISR. News of walk-outs and protests are still being received, and will be covered more fully in the forthcoming The Socialist. They include:
Leicester: Up to 1,000 school students demonstrated in the town centre. Unfortunately, the police used heavy-handed tactics and arrested a number of students, which led to a mass protest at the police station. The police then penned in the demonstrators, only letting them out when they had been photographed and their details recorded.
Southampton: A very noisy and lively protest of over 200 school students took place, chanting “Don’t attack Iraq” and “We’ve got rights”. Over 100 came out of one school. Students marched to the town hall and demanded to see the Mayor, who refused to appear. In their speeches, students said that their demonstration on Day X will be 10 times bigger. 20 ISR activists stayed behind at the end to plan further events. A mass leaflet is planned for Saturday and an ISR meeting for Sunday. There was television, radio and newspaper coverage.
Huddersfield: 50 students from a sixth form college and a school marched against war.
Birmingham: 80 students walked out of schools and colleges, with around 40 demonstrating in the city centre. Ten joined ISR during the course of the day.
5th March 2003 – Students say no to war on Iraq!
Strike report newsletter
On Wednesday 5th March, thousands of students internationally went on strike and took to the streets in protest against the war.
This shows the huge amount of anger that exists among young people against the war around the world. Below are reports of some of the strikes ISR – Youth Against the War helped to organise.
More strike reports from Britain are available on the Stop the War Coalition website – www.stopwar.org.uk.
There will be some strikes taking place on Friday 7th March – these reports will be added as soon as we find out what happened. There will also be more reports sent from Wednesday 5th.
10,000 school students on strike in Stockholm against war
MPs heckled outside parliament
10,000 school students on strike in Stockholm against war
Sweden protest of 10,000 school students 2003
Protest in Sergels Sq, Stockholm.
On Wednesday 5th March at lunchtime, Sergels square in the centre of Stockholm was filled up by school students who demanded an immediate stop for the preparations of war against Iraq.
With 10,000 the strike was the biggest school student’s protest since 1995. It was organised by School Students Against War, a campaign launched by Elevkampanjen/ISR. School students from over 100 schools joined the strike and the demonstration to the riksdag (parliament). It was part of the global protest day from students and school students.
At the meeting point, Sergels square, Bilbo G-ransson spoke for School Students Against War, which he was a cofounder of in December, and for his school: “The demonstrations have been massive but they are not enough. War means mass terror and we will step up our struggle to stop it. Our strike is a way to set an example. If workers in Sweden and internationally also strikes we can force the government to retreat”.
Lena Ezelius, chairperson of one major branch of Kommunal (the council workers union), gave her support to School Students Against War and urged other Kommunal branches to join the Network against war. Sofia Marklund, district chair of Elevkampanjen/ISR, reported on the strikes globally.
Diana Castro spoke for a school north of Stockholm that was on strike the whole day: It is impossible to create democracy through bombs. Saddam is 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. Outside parliament, MPs from four parties came out to be questioned. Urban Ahlin, social democratic chair of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, refused to condemn war if the UN would sanction one – and was shouted down by the crowd.
One of most shouted slogans was “No to war – with of without UN support.” A resolution was given to the MPs, in which Swedish arms export was condemned as well as the war profits of shipping companies.
The Left Party MP Lars Ohly and Elin Gauffin of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden) spoke against the war.
Elin Gauffin said; “All over the world war opponents are shouting – ‘No war for oil.’ Bush and his friends have shares in the oil industry and their aim is to get hold of the oil and to increase their profits. This world order can’t be allowed to continue like this”
This was a demo with excellent mood and organisation. The campaign has received a lot of publicity, including national TV and radio.
Next step is a general strike in all schools on Day X – if the day of massive bombing arrives. Before then, we will demonstrate on the International Women’s day 8 March and on the demo of the network 15 March.
In Newry at least 1000 were on the demonstration. This was in a situation where the school authorities locked pupils in. Students escaped to go on the demo.
In Derry, the strike action took off the response was brilliant. At least 1000 school students came out including in integrated schools where Youth Against the War (campaign set up by Socialist Youth – ISR in Northern Ireland) had only one person present. School students marched in impromptu demos to the Guild Hall in the centre of the town. We set up stalls and gave out Soc Youth /YAW material.
In Ennieskillen where we had only set up stalls in the city centre raising the idea of action at least three schools came out.
Belfast saw the most confrontational approach taken by the school authorities but still the strike took off.
In a school in West Belfast, teachers barricaded the school gates. Students ran out the back of the school and then ran 1 mile through the back streets to come to the front of the school. In other schools teachers formed lines across the gates to stop students leaving – so in many cases they climbed over the fences some being injured in the process. At other schools students were locked in and protested inside the school grounds.
In Orange Field School in a Protestant area where YAW had no members and had done no specific campaigning work the teachers blocked the exits and then chased 200 school students around the playing fields before they escaped from the school grounds to join the action. In the Dominican school in North Belfast, students were threatened with expulsion if they took part and 300 people came out. In another school, Hazelwood, where the school authorities were a bit more intelligent and came to an agreement that sixth formers would be allowed out on strike, the fifth formers broke the agreement and came out as well.
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.
Successful Anti-War action in Ireland
Youth Against the War, the campaign set up by Socialist Youth, the Irish section of ISR, organised a successful walkout of school students in North Dublin yesterday. At 12.30 school students walked out of their school and assembled at the County Council Offices in Swords town centre to protest at the drive to war on Iraq and the shameful role of the Irish government in allowing US warplanes refuel in Shannon Airport.
Over 150 students took part in the action and 30 joined Youth Against the War 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.
In Cork, a Youth Against the War group was set up in one school with the support of two teachers and in another school leaflets were distributed calling on students to join YAW. In both schools many students gave a commitment to attend an anti-war demonstration this Saturday in Cork City.
Youth Against the War received enormous media coverage for the actions we organised and for our call for widespread walkouts and strikes on “Day-X”. 3 national newspapers covered the action, as did 3 national radio stations and 3 regional radio stations including one youth station. We were the second item on the main evening news on the main national TV station.
We are planning 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 are considering a nationwide school student strike.
Matt Waine, Dublin
Max Toynbee from Finham Park school reports;
“At my school we got about 35 people to a meeting at which Dave Nellist spoke (A Coventry Socialist Party councilior for St Michael’s ward). A teacher spoke in favour of war just so that people had to the arguments in favour of it presented to them. It was really good.
A lot of people there were year seven students, who are in the first year of secondary school, 11 and 12-year-olds. It was great seeing younger students there, and not just the older students.
It was good in town as well. We got about 40 or so people onto the demonstration like the Godiva statue. There was students from Sidney Stringer, Barrs Hill, Finham Park sixth form, Stoke Park, The Butts College, Tile Hill college, Coventry University, and probably some other schools and colleges that I don’t know about. We did the short, lively march around town.
We had a megaphone and we were doing some good chants. Then me and a girl called Michelle, who is also an ISR member at the college in Coventry went into the council house and asked to see a Labour councillor to see if they could justify their position on the war. A councillor did come out and spoke to the rest of the demonstration — councillor Heather Parker, who represents Foleshill ward in Coventry, but her arguments didn’t convince any of the students.
The day was very successful. We recruited a lot of people to ISR and more and more people are getting involved in ISR in Coventry. There were a few problems in terms of organising in schools which we can work on for the next time, but over all the day was a big success.”
In Sheffield 400 students took part in the strikes showing their opposition to the war and cam out on strike on the 5th March.
Around 150 came from King Edwards; there were many students who took part in the strikes from over 10 other schools from across the city. There were also FE students who took part.
When students arrived in the city centre, there was really lively march around the city centre with loads of chanting and singing – which then went onto the FE college and another school and went round calling for students to ‘Come Out and join our protests’.
ISR members and supporters collected over 90 names of school students who want more information from over 11 schools and 4 college sites.
This took place in the background of some head teachers and the education department trying to stop the walkouts through the press including the head teacher for m High Storrs School sending letters home to parents telling them students had been given ISR flyers!!
Gavin Martin from High Storrs School said;
“There was a lot of interest about walkouts in many schools across Sheffield including my own school which actually sent out a letter forbidding anyone to go to the march in town. Despite this around forty or fifty people from my school joined others to march the streets of Sheffield in the rain.
We went to schools, colleges and the university to join with more young people of Sheffield and we saw some students who wanted to join the protest being held back by teachers who were trying to separate us from their students.
As we marched we received a great deal of support from the public and many people honked their horns or showed other signs of approval. At the peak of the march I would estimate that there were probably up to a thousand protesters, maybe even more, despite schools condemning the walkout idea. Many more people would have come if possible and I am sure there will be a massive turnout for any similar protest on ‘Day X’.”
This shows the determination of young people to show their anger at war on Iraq – now onto building for ‘Day X’ walkouts and action!! There will also be a Stop the War Coalition demonstration on Saturday, which over 3,000 people are expected to take part in.
In Leeds, up to 300 students walked out against the war. Many were from Notre Dame 6th form college and there were 50-80 from the university and some from the Art College who were also joined by a number of students from local schools.
All met up for a really good, lively protest.
A number of ISR members and supporters are now continuing the protests and are on hunger strike in the city centre. This has received lots of press coverage, and the students are appealing for people to join the hunger strikes and show support – more to follow.
‘Education not War’ protest at Parliament and Downing St
DOWNING STREET and Whitehall came to a grinding halt for an hour on 5 March when 500 school students took a rolling protest from Parliament Green down to the gates of Downing Street.
School students from across London – from north, south and west – and even from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire came to the demonstration. Throughout the day new groups of students arrived after walking out of their school. Some had just heard about the action on the news and decided to walk out.
A number of students had been threatened with exclusion but as many said: They can’t exclude all of us if we stick together”.
Some had brought home-made banners, taking estate agents’ hoardings.
School students sat down in front of Downing Street and it took police nearly an hour to move them to the other side of the road. In some individual cases the police were exceptionally heavy-handed but did not pursue the full riot tactics that they normally do when ploughing into demonstrations. Obviously, police wading into school students with batons and horses is not the sort of publicity the government wants at the moment.
The protest made the national TV news and ISR member Chaminda Jayanetti was interviewed and appeared on the BBC 6 o’clock news.
School students were joined by students from Brunel and UCL universities in London. Students from Fortismere school, South Camden Community School, Elliot School, Lady Margaret School, Acland Burghley, Parliament Hill and Dame Alice Owen’s School all signed up to link up with ISR for future actions on Day X.
The ISR leaflet and action plan of how to take action on Day X was eagerly taken up by many of those on the protest.
Lewisham school students march out of school to protest against the war
A lively, noisy picket line of a couple of hundred school students at Sydenham girls school started a day of protest against the war in Lewisham. Teachers tried to bully students back in and even went so low as to use the anti-trade union laws to get the young people to go in to lessons.
The students, who have been leafleting and preparing banners and stickers for the strike, were not to be deterred from this opportunity to get their voices heard. Hundreds of students marched from Sydenham Girls to Forest Hill Boys School where teachers locked the students in and prevented them from joining the demonstration.
Many of the Forest Hill lot broke out the back gate and came down to join the rally in the local park. All the way while we were marching the chants of No Blood for Oil and NO War brought workers out to the pavements and windows to support us and most of the cars beeped in support of our protest against Bush and Blair’s war.
After the rally the police also tried to bully us out of having a demonstration and after we went up to Sedge Hill school where the students were again locked in by the teachers we had a really bizarre police chase with about 20 of us on a bus and a van load of police following us and stopping at all the stops!!
When we got up to Christ the King where we had planned a lunchtime rally the police were already on the gate. Students were asking the policemen what they thought of the war and were horrified when they said they weren’t allowed to have an opinion!
One student from Year 8 said; “It’s a big privilege to me to say what I want to say.
People think that we’re too young to have a say
Today’s been really good so people know that we have a right to a say.”
Another from Year 10 where loads turned up said; “Teachers not letting everyone have a say even though it’s our right to strike.”
Ballots against the war
Up to 300 students from Leyton 6th, Monoux 6th From and Walthamstow girls school in London, took part in ballots on war. The majority voted against war and the majority overwhelmingly said they would take strike action on Day X – the first day of war.
About 30 students took part in an ISR short march and rally. Most were from Regents Circus College in the Town Centre. At least 3 came from New College and 7 school students marched down from Commonweal School. There were at least 60 prepared to take part, but the organiser in the school was still being held in the school “Time out” room by senior teachers at the agreed meeting time. Most of the school students returned to school at the end of lunch time even though there was torrential rain!!. The local paper asked for interviews and took photos.
The next step is to set up ISR and anti war groups in both the colleges and the school. All were confident of organising a much bigger strike on day X.
About 15 -20 school students (all 6thformers) from 2 schools marched into centre of town, with home made banners and placards. Got coverage on the local radio, and paper sent reporter and photographer. One Head had banned them, the other been supportive (but only for 6th formers).
They marched around town afterwards. Fuller report + photos to follow.
We conducted a demonstration at the University Library; we had live music playing outside. We had put up posters all around the University to get as many people involved as possible. We have the protest together with Durham Social Forum, some of their members came and participated in the protest. There was a good turnout, about 20 people participated. Everybody was keen to plan for a major protest on ‘Day X’ – the day that war starts if it does. On that day we are planning to have a massive protest in the marketplace in central Durham.