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April 20th: March for Peace and Justice
by Corey Eastwood

In its post September 11th quest for revenge, the U.S. military has decimated the already war-torn country of Afghanistan. Nearly 4,000 Afghans, many of them innocent civilians, have already lost their lives. Towns and cities have been destroyed, leaving thousands of people without homes, running water, adequate food, and proper sanitation coverage. President George W. Bush would like us to believe that this death and suffering will eliminate terrorism and protect our freedom.

The foreign war on terrorism is not limited to Afghanistan. Over the past 11 years, the U.S.-led United Nations sanctions and bombings on Iraq have led to the deaths of over 1.5 million men, women and children. According to the London Observer, the U.S. and Great Britain are currently assembling a force of 250,000 ground troops for a planned invasion on Iraq. Despite the fact that statements suggesting Iraq’s connection to the September 11th attacks and to the subsequent anthrax threats have proven unfounded, the U.S. government continues to use the “war on terrorism” as a pretext to build an offensive against their long-time enemies.

In Israel’s escalating war against the people of Palestine, the U.S. continues to provide billions of dollars in weapons and political support. While our media has distorted the conflict – portraying the Palestinian movement for self-determination as a series of “terrorist” attacks – our Congress maintains support for Israel’s government-sanctioned violence that continues to claim the lives of innocent Palestinians.

On the domestic front, the “Patriot Act” and other “anti-terrorism” legislation has led to the racial profiling and FBI investigations of over 5,000 people of Middle Eastern descent. According to The Partnership for Civil Justice over 1,200 Arab men are still being detained without trials or due process.

At NYU, the administration has just come to an agreement with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to hand over all personal files of foreign students while holding them to stringent academic standards under the threat of deportation.
Many of our civil liberties to assemble and speak freely risk being trampled on. Our right to privacy is being stolen by new search and seizure powers granted to these intelligence agencies, which run unchecked by the discriminating eye of the criminal injustice system.

The ACLU noted that the Patriot Act’s “expanded definition of terrorism will inevitably ensnare many non-citizens who have done nothing wrong on the basis of their political beliefs and associations.” For the first time, domestic groups can be labeled terrorist organizations, making membership or material support a deportable offense. Non-citizens could be detained on charges such as minor visa violations, or for providing assistance to groups that are not designated as terrorist organizations at all, as long as the activities of the group satisfy a new, extraordinarily broad definition of terrorism that can include legitimate forms of protest and civil disobedience.

While the Bush administration has handed out billions of tax-payer dollars in post-9/11 corporate bailouts, many of these same “troubled” corporations have laid-off large numbers of their workers. The Nation reports that in New York City alone over 95,000 workers have lost their jobs as a result of September 11th. These massive corporate bailouts along with increased spending inside the military and domestic law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation have led to tremendous budget cuts in social programs.

To help the faltering economy and support the war on terrorism, New York State has substantially cut its college Tuition Assistance Program while increasing the cost of tuition at the City University of New York (CUNY). These tuition hikes from Albany have come right on the heels of a November decision by the CUNY Board of Trustees to begin charging immigrant students at the out of state tuition rate; in effect doubling their cost of education. It is no surprise that these cutbacks have had the greatest impact on poor communities and communities of color, forcing many CUNY students to decrease their number of classes or drop out entirely.

Is it our pursuit of liberty that makes us deny people their right to education while we spend tax dollars on bombs?
As New Yorkers, we’ve witnessed the absolutely horrid effects of terrorism. As we mourn the victims of September 11th and support their families, we believe that terrorism will only end when the cycle of violence and hatred ends. Each innocent victim anywhere is a victim too many.

On April 20th, 2002 tens of thousands of people will march on Washington, D.C. to stop the war at home and abroad. We, New York City community members, will march in solidarity with the millions of people worldwide who want to end the human oppression and exploitation that is being carried out by the US “war on terror.” We will march because it is our duty as citizens - as true patriots, who firmly believe in the values of freedom, democracy and equality to raise our voices for peace and justice. Together, we will be heard! Together we can STOP THE WAR! Please join us.

 

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