GU SOLIDARITY Solidarity Holds Anti-War Protest By Arianne Aryanpur Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee speak with reporters after their demonstration Thursday.

Twenty members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee participated in a silent demonstration Thursday to protest violent action in response to last week’s terrorist attacks.

Nine students lay blindfolded and motionless on their backs on the wet bricks of Red Square. They held signs promoting justice instead of war. Three others stood solemnly holding posters, and one posed as a U.S. soldier. He held a sign that read, “I am in the U.S. Navy . Please don’t send me off to die before my baby is born. Thank you.”

Several more somberly handed out leaflets to passersby. While the demonstrators condemned the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, they also criticized U.S. military action, asserting it would lead to the loss of more innocent lives.

“I am a mother of five. I struggle to survive in Afghanistan. Please don’t kill me,” one girl’s wet sign read. According to GSC Vice President Avery Pardee (SFS ’04), many of the students who passed by Red Square stopped to view the posters.

“People have taken our fliers and read the signs,” Pardee said at the demonstration. “If we hadn’t done this we wouldn’t have known how many people share our sentiments.”

The hour-long demonstration coincided with similar demonstrations in at least 36 states across the nation. Duke, Harvard and Columbia were among the over 140 universities to participate.

The sentiments voiced at Thursday’s demonstration echo those of several nationally recognized pacifist organizations and religious groups. Although the groups vary, they share several fundamental views.

Proponents support the use of legal means, particularly the United Nations, to enact justice.

“There are ways to address this through the law,” Andrew Milmore (SFS ’02), chief organizer of GSC, said. “We can decrease arms sales, increase airport security, gather more information through U.S. intelligence and establish better relations with the Afghani people.”

They also stress the danger of condemning an entire group for the actions of a few extreme individuals. Milmore stressed the importance of recognizing the poverty in Afghanistan.

“These people live in caves because of drought . they are not our enemy,” he said.

Atif Anser (SFS ’03), a Pakistani observer at the demonstration, echoed Milmore’s sentiments. He called attention to fact that the majority of Afghanis not only condemn the Taliban but have been unsuccessfully fighting it for years.

“Advocating peace doesn’t mean you are pro-terrorist or anti-U.S,” Milmore added. “People think that the only option is war or nothing, but there is so much space between war and nothing.”

However, according to a poll conducted by ABC NEWS/The Washington Post, the majority of the American public does not agree. According to the poll, 86 percent of respondents would support military action and 69 percent would support war even if it required American casualties.

Still, demonstrators hope their actions have made the public aware of the potential violent repercussions of hasty U.S. action. ilmore said he encourages individuals to publicly articulate their views.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up in favor of peace because there are a lot of people who are thinking the same thing,” he encouraged.

The idea for holding a peace demonstration began at Wesleyan University after students were troubled with the public’s violent reactions the first days following the attacks. Thursday was recognized as a National Student Day of Action for Peaceful Justice by campus organizers. Campuses across the nation held rallies, marches, vigils and speeches to advocate peaceful action.

According to the GSC’s Web site, its goal is to ensure “economic and political advancement of the working class, fair conditions and compensation for labor, democracy in politics and in the workplace, as well as civil rights, multiculturalism, gender equity, religious tolerance and equality for all sexual orientations.”

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