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Saint Paul anti-war protest marks sixth year of Iraq war and occupation

by staff |
March 24, 2009
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St. Paul, MN - A coalition of Twin Cities area organizations marked the sixth anniversary of U.S. military combat operations in Iraq with a march and rally of about 500 people, March 21, calling for an immediate end to the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event gathered at the Martin Luther King Center and was followed a march to the State Capitol building for a closing rally.

Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, told the crowd, “Every step of the way, the war in the Middle East has been accompanied by a war on the working people of this country.”

A statement issued by organizers says in part, “This year marks the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq. While there is talk of withdrawal, the U.S. government is committed to keeping most of the troops in Iraq this year and 50,000 troops there for years to come after the ‘final’ troop pull-out in December 2010. The withdrawal plan being discussed by Washington does not end the war and occupation; it seeks to continue the U.S. presence in Iraq until a stable client regime is established. The occupation of Iraq must come to an end, the people of Iraq and the people of the U.S. want U.S. troops out.”

The statement also noted, “The war in Afghanistan is not the ‘good’ war. It is another horrendous war and occupation that must be ended. The U.S. government has announced plans to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and is contemplating more troop deployments in the future. There are also increasing levels of U.S. military action in Pakistan, which will create greater instability and more threats to U.S. national security.”

Marie Braun of the Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq, said, “While we are being told that violence in Iraq is down, the situation for ordinary people in Iraq has not changed. After six years of war and occupation, the Iraqi people are still without electricity, clean water or basic medical care. Sewage stands in the streets. Reconstruction efforts are minimal. There is little security, and, according to a recent study by Oxfam, Iraqi women were worse off in 2008 than they were in 2006 and 2007 and they expect the situation to further deteriorate in 2009. The occupation of Iraq must come to an end so that the Iraqi people can determine their own future and begin rebuilding their country and their lives.”

The Saint Paul protest was organized by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and supported by many organizations, including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq, Anti-War Committee, AFSCME Local 3800, Women Against Military Madness, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Youth Against War & Racism, Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bail Out, AFL-CIO Retiree Council and others.