By Roz Yake
Armed with signs and slogans, Ryerson students rallied against bullets and bombs last Saturday in an anti-war day of action that drew thousand of demonstrators worldwide.In Toronto, about 500 activists took part in the Walk for Peace and Global Solidarity to protest the United States’ planned military response to terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Holding signs that read: “War: What is it good for?… Absolutely Nothing,” 15 Ryerson students gathered at Lake Devo before joining the demonstration that marched from Queen’s Park to the U.S. Consulate.
Activists in other cities around the world, including Washington and Montreal voiced their opposition to imminent violence. “A world of peace, equality and social justice is not something that can be accomplished through bombs and missiles,” said RyeSAC president, Odelia Bay who participated in the march organized by Toronto Mobilization for Global Justice. “We need to lead by example and say ‘no’ to war.”
Bay said she hopes the public and the government will become more aware of the anti-war movement after the international initiative. The Demonstration included activists from Toronto universities, members of the Canadian Federation of Students and Tariq Ali, a prominent anti-war activist from Pakistan.
Mark Bailkowski, a radio and television arts student who participated in the walk, is afraid of what will happen as a result of the terrorist attacks and wanted to take a stand against the possibility of further violence. “If they blow up Afghanistan they will only be creating more bin Ladens,” Bailkowski said. “We should be building bridges rather than burning them.”
Alex Lisman, RyeSAC’s v.p. education, said peace cannot be achieved until the U.S. realizes it has been supporting forms of violence in the past. “The U.S. needs to stop state violence in terms of sanctions against Iraq and supporting occupation in Israel,” said Lisman. “If America continues to sanction forms of violence, it should not be surprised if it blows back.”
Using Muslim students as an example, Lisman said the U.S. terrorist attacks have escalated racism on and off Ryerson’s campus. “People used to feel accepted on campus,” Lisman added. “Now people are blanketing a whole nation for the actions of the terrorists.”
Lisman has also passed a petition around campus, which says the losses of September 11th should not be used to justify racism and further acts of war. So far, several hundred students have signed the petition that will be sent to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
A meeting will be held Wednesday at Oakham House at 6 p.m. to plan further anti-war action.
– With files from Amy O’Brian