Candlelight in the shadow of war

Lisen Skarborg and Jonathan Roos The Cambridge Student, 23 January 2003

As people around the world joined in peaceful protest against the possibly imminent war on Iraq, over 100 Cambridge locals and students converged on Petty Cury on Saturday night.

Organized in just two days to show solidarity with those protesting in Washington DC and San Francisco, there was a surprising diversity amongst the participants. Stuart Hemsley, director of CamPeace, was proud to announce that five other organizations were taking part: CamSAW, Women in Black, People and Planet, CU Islamic Society and Cambridgeshire Against Refugee Detention.

After about an hour, Hemsley addressed the group and spoke of how governments are turning a deaf ear to the protests of their citizens. These sentiments were echoed by another organizer, Steven Lawrence, who felt that the surprisingly large turn-out displayed an ever-increasing global disapproval of Government foreign policy.

Hemsley, who carried a rosary and is also chairman of Pax Christi, an international Catholic Peace promoting organization, urged members to join him in London on 15th February for a "massive protest". He urged for more tolerance and negotiations, stating "we are all people of the book", as well as for general disarmament around the world. Since last year, CamPeace has collected over 5,000 signatures for a petition which is to be forwarded to both Anne Campbell MP and Tony Blair.

The protestors were then invited to share their opinions with the group. The most memorable speech was made by a homeless man whose prolonged speech told of his suffering during long nights sleeping in a local car park. "Iraq is not our country," he said. "Think of our own people, think of the homeless."

One poster strikingly emphasized the economical arguments stressed in many of the speeches: if one were to spend $26 million per day for 2000 years, it stated, the tally would still be far less than the US has spent on defence since 1945.