Speeches from Anti-War Committee Members Jennie Eisert & Meredith Aby on the 8th Anniversary of the Iraq War

“8th Anniversary of Iraq War protest on March 19th, 2011”

Speech by Jennie Eisert, member of the Anti-War Committee
3/19/2011 | Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul, MN

My name is Jennie Eisert, I am an Anti War Committee member! We are here today and in years past to say NO to the ongoing occupations and wars against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.  This year, however, we have particular circumstances that we are fighting here at home, and that is the repression of antiwar and international solidarity activists by the FBI.  The anti-war movement needs to stop the repression by the FBI and put an end to the grand jury. For they are attacking us – you and me, people willing to stand up and speak out for what is right.  Back in the beginning of October they came to my work and harassed me telling me that people I have worked closely with and who have been leaders in the antiwar movement for years – Jess Sundin,  Meredith Aby, and Mick Kelly – were manipulating me.  They had the complete audacity to come to where I work, interrupt my day, have my manager bring me to them, than they whip out their badges, not only to show me but to also show my boss who they were.  Let me tell you, after that day – it still feels like things aren’t the same.  This is exactly what they wanted.  The attacks on our friends, on the Anti-War Committee, on us – the people fighting for justice is not going to end.  It will not end with the 23 subpoenaed, it will not end until people start standing up, fighting back – with our words, with our feet, with our fists in the air – bringing it back to the street.  Just think 8 years ago we had thousands upon thousands of people in Minneapolis marching – though it didn’t stop the war, it could definitely stop the repression against this movement.

I will say this “can a nation be free if it oppresses its own people?” – the answer is NO!  “Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations?” – the answer is NO!

What do we do about this?  We go to those countries and get educated by hearing personal stories, by seeing first hand the atrocities that have happened.  We protest in solidarity with the people of other countries and demand an end to the pillaging of their countries.  Believing in the right for people to defend their rights and their lives is what international solidarity means.

This brings me to my next point:  International Solidarity is an important part of this movement.  This is why I joined the Anti-War Committee.  I remember back in the spring of 2000 driving back from WI where I attended college for 2 years, I got off at the Huron exit so I could grab something to eat before heading home.  I saw on the other side of the street a banner that said “No More Military Aid to Colombia.”  This put a smile on my face and instead of getting something to eat, I went to go see who these folks were talking about the country that I am from.  I not only went to look, I went and was invited to grab one of the ends of the banners, later on I saw a picture of me from that day holding that banner in one of the old AWC newsletters.

The anti-war movement isn’t stagnant, it moves around.  Understanding and seeing first hand how our tax dollars are being spent abroad, allows us to look deeper into what is going on.  I love that members of our movement have gone to Colombia, Iraq, Palestine, and before to El Salvador, and to other such countries that the US government has had its greedy hands in.  Not only is important for the people in those countries to know that we stand with them, it is also important that they know that we are fighting and supporting them here.

There is no peace in war!  Peace happens when the devastation ends and the people of that country have free will, and have there right to self-determination!  When we see the uprisings in the Middle East, we as the antiwar movement don’t see them as weak, or needing the US, or its allies “NATO” to go in and take over by bombing, or placing sanctions on their country.  We see them as strong, powerful, and something that can show people in the US that they too can stand up and fight for their rights – as we have done in WI.  Self determination is a strong point that needs to be made – it is wrong for anyone to say what is right and isn’t right for another country’s people.  It is up to those people to say what is right or isn’t right and make the steps, leaps and bounds to change it.  We stand with the people of Libya and say no to US and NATO forces going in.

“Solidarity is Not a Crime”

Speech by Meredith Aby, Committee to Stop FBI Repression
3/19/2011 | Martin Luther King Center, St. Paul, MN

Almost every day I turn on the radio and hear Clinton or Obama criticize Middle Eastern and Northern African countries for criminalizing dissent.  It is outrageous that the US is using protecting the right to dissent as an excuse to justify war against Libya, while anti-war activists are targeted right here in the US for daring to criticize the US government and protest against the very wars they are justifying!  I join with you today to say Hands off Libya and End the Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan!

I am marching today with all of you to make clear that opposing war is not a crime. If the FBI and federal government are looking for criminals, they should start with those who lied us into the war in Iraq. They should start with the banks that blew up the economy, forcing millions out of their homes and jobs.

The FBI raided my home on September 24th and put us on notice that Midwest activists were being subpoenaed to testify to a secret grand jury in Chicago.  It disgusts me that our government has subpoenaed now a total of 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists to testify against each other and the movements for peace and justice in the U.S. and in other countries.

It is ridiculous that the federal government is using our solidarity with people affected by US war and militarism as an excuse to investigate us for “material support for terrorism”.  Helping other people in need who are victims of war is NOT TERRORISM but the US military aid our government provides countries like Israel and Colombia DOES actually terrorize civilian communities.

The investigation of anti-war activists like myself is an attack on our movement and an attack on solidarity and dissent.  Unfortunately, we are not alone.  Bradley Manning has been tortured and is in solitary confinement; Julian Assange has been threatened with supporting terrorism; both for daring to question the US narrative of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Malai Joya just had her visa to the US denied because her message criticizing the US occupation of Afghanistan rivals the US own narrative.  This is a key time to stand up and speak out!  Not only do the people of the world need us to, but we need to raise our voices and defend our right to protest against wars and occupation.

From the Midwest to the Middle East, Solidarity is NOT a Crime!