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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 27, 2003
2:04 PM

CONTACT: Campus Antiwar Network (CAN)
Kirstin Roberts: (773) 227-7873
Minou Arjomand: (631) 838-1373 

Students Form National Antiwar Organization
 
WASHINGTON - February 27 - More than 350 student delegates and supporters from 100 different campus antiwar and peace groups gathered at Loyola University in Chicago to hold the first national conference of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) on February 21-23.

The conference felt like history in the making as students collaborated in forging a democratic, grassroots, student-led network dedicated to opposing the impending war on Iraq.

United around opposition to war on Iraq-whether sanctioned by the United Nations or not-the students from elite universities, community colleges and high schools across the country pledged to ignite a firestorm of non violent protest and opposition to U.S. war preparations in the coming weeks.

Plans were laid for a nationwide day of campus protest and-on some campuses-student strikes on March 5, student walk-outs and mass demonstrations if war begins, and a national mobilization of students and all others opposed to war on April 5.

"We reject the idea that our peers will be sent to kill and die for an unjust and immoral war on the people of Iraq. We are the real future of this country and the future of empire and unending war that Bush envisions is not what we want," said Chris Roche, a high school senior from Chicago.

While the bulk of the weekend was dedicated to making, discussing and voting on proposals, organizers also wedged in a great opening session with Norman Solomon, media critic and author of the new book "Target

Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You;" Tomomi Nakamura, a student from Kokugakuin University in Tokyo and a leader of the Japanese student antiwar movement; Jacob Park of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, and Charlie Jenks and Sunny Miller of the Traprock Peace Center.

There were also 11 workshops taking up everything from "The impact of Bush's war on the Middle East" with Middle East expert Rashid Khalidi to "Media strategies for the antiwar movement," "Israel and Palestine," "An Introduction to Non-Violent Civil Disobedience" and "After Iraq, Where is Bush headed next?"

"I think everyone was very encouraged by our accomplishments this weekend," said Kathleen Brown, a delegate from the University of Vermont, who was elected to CAN's national coordinating committee along with 11 other students. "People wanted to work through things constructively and get to the basics of organizing actions. Last year in building the movement against U.S. war in Afghanistan, the movement was much more embattled. But now there's a great upswing coming out of the huge national demonstrations in San Francisco, New York City and around the world."

CAN adopted a unique structure, ensuring that it is student owned and operated. 1) CAN will remain independent and is not affiliated with any other organization though it pledges to work with all forces in the antiwar movement : 2) It is democratic so that each member campus can elect delegates through their local anti-war student coalitions and each affiliated campus group has an equal voice within CAN: and 3) CAN accepts affiliation from every campus or school antiwar organization and respects the right of its member committees to organize independent antiwar actions locally.

CAN adopted four points of unity: No war on Iraq, whether backed by the U.S. or the United Nations (UN); End the UN sanctions which have killed more than 1 million Iraqis; Oppose the attacks on civil liberties and racist scapegoating at home; Money for jobs, education, and healthcare-not war.

CAN also decided to call for an April 5 national mobilization in a few major cities following on the heels of the student-labor week of action already being organized from March 31 to April 4.

CAN hopes that this event will mark a major contribution to the national antiwar movement by forging collaboration between existing national antiwar formations such as United for Peace and Justice, International ANSWER, Not in Our Name, and U.S. Labor Against War and all other antiwar and peace organizations.

CAN is launching a website at which students from around the country can post their antiwar actions and connect with other students from around the country, projected to launch later this week. Plans for a newsletter, regional antiwar conferences, international student networking and teleconference meetings with students in Baghdad are also being laid.

Photos from the CAN conference and a history of CAN actions can be found at http://traprockpeace.org

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