Over the weekend of July 10 to 12, some 250 people gathered at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, PA for the second conference of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations.
The conference's primary goal was to broaden and unite the various groups constituting the antiwar movement, and to adopt an action proposal. Focusing on Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, the National Assembly also opposes U.S. interference in Iran and Pakistan.
At the Friday night roundtable discussion moderated by attorney Lynne Stewart, whose appeal of her conviction for conspiring to aid terrorists is still pending (see May/June 2009 Washington Report, p. 49), there were a variety of speakers from such organizations as Black Voices for Peace, Veterans for Peace and the Palestine Solidarity Movement. John Harris of the Greater Boston Stop the Wars Committee spoke of the necessity to "build a social movement instead of a social club." Jorge Mujica of the National Council for the Institute of Mexicans Abroad pointed out that, because of "Green Card soldiers," Mexico is second only to the U.S. in the number of soldiers lost in the Iraq war.
At the Saturday morning plenary session, longtime peace activist Molly Rush welcomed the gathering. Keynote addresses were given by economist Michael Zweig, who discussed the combined shocks of the economy and the war and Iraqi poet and activist Zaineb Alani. "How can you bring 1.2 million people back to life?" she asked. Speaking from personal experience, Alani described the devastating conditions in Iraq today, as well as the trauma of Iraqi refugees, to whom she teaches English as a Second Language in Columbus, OH.
Lunch-which featured remarks by the energetic and inspiring Col. Ann Wright (ret.), as well as by Elie Domoa, general-secretary of the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe-was followed by panels on such topics as The Struggle for Palestine, Women and War, Student Organizing, and the upcoming G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. …