Classroom struggle: school's out for peace, unity and social justice (article published in the Sydney Morning Herald)

Essay by redlauren April 2004

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March 5 was a historic day. It was the beginning of an international youth movement against war on Iraq. High school students, university students and other young people united to take a message loud and clear to world leaders: there is a better solution to this conflict, and we're prepared to fight for it.

The slogan? Books not bombs. Students feel that the money which will be spent on the military would be better spent on upgrading educational facilities, public housing and hospitals.

The Howard Government is unwilling to say just how much money will be devoted to the war, but it is sure to be in the billions. In comparison, $1.5 billion could restore public education funding to pre-1990 levels, or increase the number of available child care places by 10 times.

The tactic? To encourage students to leave their classrooms, a walkout to show their opposition to Australian involvement in war on Iraq, UN sanctioned or not.

The reason for the protest? War is not the answer to terrorism, and will only result in the senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Aid agencies, including Oxfam, estimate that 80 per cent of war casualties will be civilians. Many students carried handmade banners and placards with slogans like "No war for oil - not in my name" and "How many lives for a gallon of oil?"



The students who attended were also protesting against other injustices and drawing links with other social issues. One speaker pointed out that refugees are the logical consequence of war, and that millions of Iraqis will be displaced.

Another highlighted the plight of Iraqi women, questioning whether much will differ for them after a regime change.

The mood? Passionate, exuberant, political and angry. Ten thousand young people filled Sydney...