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Demonstrations marked 8th anniversary of Afghan War–demand immediate U.S./NATO withdrawal

On Wednesday October 7, students on 26 campuses across the United States protested eight long years of war against and occupation of the people of Afghanistan. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a nation-wide student organization committed to activism for peace, justice and equality, organized the protest.

Hundreds of students marched in Washington, DC in a Funk the War event organized by DC Students for a Democratic Society. The demonstrators stormed the lobby of a building that houses Chevron, Shell, Blackwater’s lobbying group, United Technologies, and Clear Channel, demanding U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hundreds of students joined a rally organized by DC SDS.

Hundreds of students joined a rally organized by DC SDS. (Photo: Jake Cunningham)

In Gainesville, Florida, 40 people rallied in the Plaza of the Americas at the University of Florida to protest the war in Afghanistan. The protesters then marched while chanting “Fund education, not occupation” and “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” The demonstrators held a “die-in” during a class change to symbolically represent innocents killed in war. Protester Fernando Figueroa said, “What we have done today doesn’t end here. We will keep building the movement to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.”

40 students rally and march at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

40 students rally and march at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

A spirited rally at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee saw fifty students demonstrate against the war. “We’re participating in this national day of action because the war in Afghanistan is wrong and we need the troops out now,” said Maral Safavi of Milwaukee SDS. “This war is only benefiting the rich.”

50 students rallied at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

50 students rallied at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

In Asheville, North Carolina students shouted “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!” across the quad on the University of North Carolina at Asheville. UNCA Students for a Democratic Society member Angela Denio said, “The people of Afghanistan have the right to self determination. Eight years of unjust U.S. occupation in Afghanistan has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties, and displaced too many families that are now living in extreme suffering and poverty.”

Demonstrators at UNC-Asheville call for self-determination for the Afghan people.

Demonstrators at UNC-Asheville call for self-determination for the Afghan people.

A Funk the War protest by Rochester SDS that drew dozens into the streets demanding an end to the occupations and an end to militarizing schools ended violently, when almost 30 police cars interrupted the peaceful protest. Police then began shoving students and community members, threatening them with batons, and spraying them with pepper spray. The police arrested 12 protestors, 2 of whom had to go to the hospital for injuries caused by police brutality. The first person arrested by the police was the only African-American student in the vicinity, and protestors quickly called the police out on this obvious racism. This protest was part of a larger campaign by Rochester SDS to end budget cuts and demilitarize their schools.

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University of Minnesota SDS held a protest of 30 students that included a skit to demonstrate the need for funding to go to education and not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Grace Kelley of SDS linked the war to sexism in the United States, saying “It has been argued by many people, politicians, and even feminists, that the war in Afghanistan is in fact going to liberate the women of Afghanistan … How can our military forces help the women in Afghanistan overcome their own cultural oppressions when we can’t even eliminate sexism within the military itself, with one in three female veterans reporting sexual assault while in service?”

University of Houston held a teach-in with 70 people in attendance. Afghanistan war veteran Matt Dobbs spoke about his experiences in two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and how he has come to oppose the war on a civilian population that is fighting a battle of self-defense against the U.S. occupation.

70 students attend an antiwar teach-in organized by Houston SDS.

70 students attend an antiwar teach-in organized by Houston SDS.

Chicago students joined a mass rally and march of hundreds against the occupation of Afghanistan. Doug Michel, a member of Chicago SDS, said, “Students from four different Chicago campuses stood up today to demand an end to the US war in Afghanistan, and we will keep speaking up until the last U.S. troop is off Afghan soil.”

And at UNC-Chapel Hill, thirty students rallied against the war, while hundreds of passers-by stopped to listen to the speeches and take antiwar literature. War veterans, community members, and students spoke out to denounce the occupation of Afghanistan and demand immediate withdrawal. The demonstration was organized by the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, and supported by many other campus groups.

30 students rally at UNC-Chapel Hill, while hundreds listen to the speeches.

30 students rally at UNC-Chapel Hill, while hundreds listen to the speeches.

Across the United States, dozens more campuses took part in the national day of action to protest the occupation of Afghanistan.

The October 7th protests came on the heels of the largest loss of life for U.S. occupation forces in a year. On Sunday October 4, anti-occupation fighters in Afghanistan killed nine U.S. soldiers in a series of attacks. So far, 869 U.S. troops are dead in Afghanistan since the occupation began in 2001 – with over a quarter of those killed in the past ten months alone. There are over 4,000 U.S. wounded.

U.S. and NATO occupation forces do not keep track of civilian casualties, but many estimate that U.S. air strikes and gunfire have killed tens of thousands of Afghanis. Just last month, U.S. air strikes killed over 90 Afghan civilians in the northern Afghan village of Omar Kheil. A similar strike in Farah province on May 4 this year killed 147 civilians.

U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now!

Fund Education, Not Occupation!

The SDS Anti-War Working Group exists to help coordinate national SDS anti-war activity. More information, reports, and organizing materials are available on the SDS Antiwar Working Group’s homepage at https://sdsantiwar.wordpress.com.

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The Antiwar Working group of the Students for a Democratic Society
(SDS) strongly condemns the September 4 Kunduz massacre perpetrated by
the United States-led coalition in Afghanistan. Under the pretext of
supposed “Taliban hijackers”, US warplanes bombed the northern Afghan
village of Omar Kheil, killing at least 90 civilians and injuring many
more.

While horrifying, this is only the latest in a long series of war
crimes and atrocities by the US in Afghanistan. On May 4, a similar
strike in western Farah province resulted in 147 civilian deaths. “The
US occupation is a disaster for Afghanistan, just like it is for Iraq.
The Afghani people will never have stability and peace until the US
leaves”, said UMN SDSer Stephanie Taylor.

This is a brutal war and it is based on lies. This war has nothing to
do with fighting terrorism, and everything to do with the long-term
control of strategic resources in Central Asia for the benefit of the
US ruling class and its allies.  As Jenae Stainer, an SDS organizer in
Tuscaloosa, Alabama put it, “Our government wants to keep us ignorant
about the real reasons and true costs of war both at home and in
Afghanistan.  That is why organizing to stop the war is so important.”

At the 2009 National Convention of the Students for a Democratic
Society, a resolution to mark the 8th anniversary of the war in
Afghanistan was passed unanimously.  On October 7th, SDS chapters
around the country will be organizing protests, actions and
educational activities to raise awareness on campus about the
continuing war in Afghanistan.  Students for a Democratic
Society is urging students and youth across the country to participate
in whatever way they can.

Organizers are calling for the billions that are wasted on empire
building abroad to be used to for providing jobs, health care, and
education at home instead.  Daniel Jaeckle-Ginsberg, a Milwaukee SDSer
said: “With our economy in recession, and our university budget in
crisis, Milwaukee SDS will be demanding, ‘Fund Education, Not
Occupation!'”

The SDS Anti-War Working Group exists to help coordinate national SDS
anti-war activity. For more information, please contact Chapin Gray at
251.605.7780.  More information, reports, and organizing materials are
available on the SDS Antiwar Working Group’s homepage at
https://sdsantiwar.wordpress.com.

U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now!
Fund Education, Not Occupation!

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