U students march against war in Iraq

Kari Petrie

For nearly 20 New York city blocks, a sea of activists marched toward the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden last week, said University employee and advocate Anh Pham.

“You couldn’t see the end or the beginning,” she said.

Pham and 46 other members of the Anti-War Committee drove 24 hours to the convention in New York to show their disapproval of America’s involvement in Iraq. Pham said the group was part of approximately 500,000 people to march in protest on Aug. 29.

“It never ceases to amaze me the amount of energy you get from (being in a group that large) and the solidarity you feel,” she said.

Farheen Hakeem, also a committee member, said she wanted to go New York to show the Bush administration they could no longer abuse the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The exploitation of 9/11 hasn’t only given the excuse of pretty gross violations of human rights in foreign policy, but also pretty gross violations in our own civil liberties,” she said.

Pham said activists also wanted to make sure there was a strong war-opposition voice heard during the convention.

“This country is on a path of war and we need to get away from that,” she said.

Hakeem said one of her favorite experiences from the rally was when demonstrators presented 1,000 coffins to represent the soldiers who were killed in Iraq.

“They just kept coming and coming,” she said. “That’s what war entails, it entails nothing but death.”

“And we don’t get to see those images (of war casualties) anymore,” Pham said. “It shows you what the real cost is. So often in the U.S. we aren’t shown what the real cost is.”

She said police were everywhere along the march’s route.

Although the police never personally attacked her, Pham said they were still oppressive and used excessive force.

Hakeem had a different view.

“They were just plain rude,” she said.

Counter protesters were also present along the route, but she said the large numbers of anti-war protestors dwarfed them.

But those who were present represented a strong, fundamentalist Christian ideal, Hakeem said.

“It was amazing how people were manipulating ideas that are supposedly about peace and democracy and manipulating them to make them something that they weren’t,” she said.