War protesters march on campus

Local rally part of global ‘day of action against the wars’

A protester shows her support at Saturday’s anti-war rally.
A protester shows her support at Saturday’s anti-war rally.

Local anti-war group Peace Kingston and its on-campus affiliate Queen’s Against War joined thousands of people worldwide on Saturday afternoon in what the Canadian Peace Alliance deemed a “day of action against the wars.”

The groups held an anti-war rally at Stauffer Library before marching peacefully to City Hall.

Event organizer Marijana Matovic said the main objective was to raise public consciousness on issues including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Canada’s presence in Haiti, and Canada’s response to U.S. war resisters.

“We really just want to raise general awareness—reacting toward anything that goes against peace,” she said.

The event coincided with various rallies throughout the world, including a demonstration in Toronto where 1,000 people protested outside the U.S. consulate.

The largest protest of the day took place in Washington, D.C., where an estimated 100,000 people joined in opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Rallies were also held in London, England, and Baghdad.

At the Kingston rally, Geoff Smith, a professor in the history and physical education departments, addressed the crowd before the march.

Smith said Canadians need to be wary of “a neighbour to the south” that has lost all sense of morality.

Although Saturday’s rally took place amidst Homecoming festivities, Martovic estimated “at least 100” of the demonstrators were Queen’s students.

Alroy Fonseca and Ryan Hill, both master’s students, took part in the rally for different reasons. Fonesca said attention need to be drawn back to the war in Iraq.

“It’s important to remind people that the war [in Iraq] is going on despite all of the other things going on in the world—Hurricane Katrina, for example,” he said.

Hill said he is concerned about people shying away from confronting the issues of war.

“There’s a problem with communication of the issues at hand, because many of them are so complex that [we decide] we’ll just leave it to experts.

“You don’t have to have a PhD to firmly understand the issues, [or] to give a vocalized opinion on what you see.”

Peace Kingston, under the umbrella organization Canadian Peace Alliance, had been organizing Saturday’s rally since early August.

A group of 15 Peace Kingston members planned lead-up events including petition signings, an alternative frosh week, and a letter-writing campaign on behalf of Jeremy Hinzman—who claimed refugee status in Canada after defecting from the U.S. military in 2004 as a result of the war in Iraq.

“We formed a petition that we will send to MP [Peter] Milliken, encouraging the government to accept those American citizens who do not believe in this war,” Matovic said.

She added Hinzman’s case is of particular interest to Peace Kingston, as the decision of an Immigration Review Board in early December will determine the family’s fate, as well as that of many others claiming political asylum in Canada.

Both Peace Kingston and Queen’s Against War are planning future events such as documentary screenings and guest lectures.

Matovic said these functions will allow the committees’ message to reach a broader audience.

“Once you really want to make something big, you have to put in the necessary time to reach people,” she said.

—With files from cbc.ca and the National Post

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