High school students walk out for peace

October 24, 2001



High school students walked out of class and took to the streets on October 18 to voice their opposition to war and racism in a national day of anti-war action initiated by the socialist youth organisation Resistance. The walkout occurred just days after 5000 high school students rallied in Berlin against the war.

From Melbourne, KYLIE MOON reports that 150 high school students from throughout Victoria stopped traffic with a "die-in" at the intersection of Bourke and Swanston streets. Some travelled for hours to attend the protest. Participants from Princes Hill High School told organisers that they had been threatened with suspension for attending the protest. They are planning to set up a High School Students Against War and Racism club on their school.

Chanting "No racism, no war: this is what we're fighting for" protesters marched to Parliament House where they dipped their hands in red paint in an attempt to leave a reminder on parliament steps of the US's bloody hands.

One hundred and fifty students walked out in Adelaide. Ben Bugden reports that the rally was followed by a public forum. Speakers included Yasmine Achmid from the Muslim Students Association, Bruce Thompson from Friends Of the Earth, Lisa Lines from the Refugee Action Collective, Kathy Newnam from the Socialist Alliance, Davie Thomason from the Network Opposing War And Racism, and Ben Standing from Resistance. Participants at the public forum unanimously decided to launch a student group against the war: Students Together Opposing War And Racism (STOP WAR).

BEA BREAR from Sydney reports that following a speak-out at the University of Sydney, over 80 high school and university students walked out of class and gathered in Hyde Park for a rally and march.

Organiser of the walk-out, high school student and Resistance member Lauren Carroll-Harris, told the rally that the US government's war in Afghanistan is "an act of terrorism as terrible as the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York".

Protesters then marched from Hyde Park to the Defence Force Plaza, where speakers attacked the Australian government's commitment of ground troops to the war in Afghanistan.

"The death of one Afghan is no less a tragedy than the death of one American", stated Stuart Munckton from Resistance to a large circle of student anti-war protesters in Canberra on October 19, LEIGH HUGHES told Green Left Weekly.

Most of the 50 protesters were senior students at Narrabundah College. After the protest a dozen secondary students left the city square — which was covered with messages opposing the war such as "Drop the debt, not the bomb" and a "Walk of Shame" that chronicled American wars throughout the world — to form a group to organise a student-led anti-war campaign. A lively meeting decided on the perfect name for the new group: Students Protesting Against Needless Killing or SPANK.

SPANK has called for another student walkout to be held on Thursday November 8, 2.30pm at Garema Square Civic, so students can vote with their feet against war and racism.

STELLA RIETHMULLER from Brisbane reports that "Good for the rich! Bad for the poor! We don't want your racist war!" was amplified through Queen Street as high school students marched to the Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Seventy high school students from over ten schools across Brisbane and Ipswich attended the protest organised by Highschoolers Agitating To End War And Racism (HATEWAR) and supported by Resistance.

Speak-outs were held in both Perth and Hobart. In Hobart, 20 people, mainly high school and university students met in Franklin Square. "I, for the first time, felt ashamed of being Australian", said Tasmania University Union president Mark Evinhuis. People were asked to wear blue and black ribbon to show support for peace, and to mourn the victims of terrorism and war.

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