Leading anti-war campaigner Cindy Sheehan will be heading up the US delegation to the International Peace Conference for Iraq, set to take place in London on 10 December.
Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in Iraq, made headlines across the world when she camped outside George Bush’s Texas ranch, demanding to meet with the US president to ask why her son died.
She will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference, which is organised by the Stop the War Coalition.
Sheehan explained in an interview with US paper Village Voice, “People have power and we’re the ones who have to effect true change.
“Look back in history at the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the labour movement. The grassroots forced change, and that’s what the peace movement is doing.
“I’ve noticed a total difference at anti-war events. I used to speak before crowds of a hundred, and sometimes 50.
“Now the crowds are larger, the enthusiasm is greater, the counter-protests are fewer.
“We have to invest everything we have right now to ensure our children and their children have a future.
“I believe what the Bush administration is doing is harmful to our present, but it will be more harmful to our future.
“It’s contaminating a region with depleted uranium. If it has its way, it’ll wage an eternal war in the Middle East. We have to change this.”
Sheehan will join speakers from anti-war movements across the world, including activists from Iraq.
Chris Nineham, one of the conference organisers, told Socialist Worker, “The International Peace Conference on 10 December will be a huge step forward for activists against the war both here and internationally.
“It will be a great opportunity to hear the opinions of people involved on the ground in Iraq.
“It will be useful in clearing the myths propagated by the British and US governments and the media about the situation over there.
“Opinion polls in Iraq now show that 82 percent of Iraqis want the troops to get out of their country.
“The peace conference will show the world that people in the US and Britain also want the troops out—and it really will open up the possibility of joint international action.
“The conference will issue a statement. Hopefully it will call for an international day of action in March 2006, on the third anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq.
“When people hear that activists such as Cindy Sheehan, and people representing the full spectrum of resistance in Iraq, will be there, they understand that this will be a great opportunity to really understand the nature of the opposition to the occupation.
“We’re getting bookings every day—I’m absolutely sure that the conference will be oversubscribed. But what we really need is delegates representing local groups.
“Schools students are already holding meetings in schools to ensure that they are represented.
“Meetings should be happening in local trade union groups, mosques, churches, schools and activist groups so that the widest possible cross section of society is represented at this conference.”
Around the country Stop the War groups are preparing for the peace conference.
Richard Searle is a Stop the War activist in Manchester. He said, “Our local group met last week to decide what to do in preparation for the International Peace Conference in December.
“We want to get as many local groups involved as is possible — hopefully we can get delegates from around 150 local organisations.
“This is a unique opportunity for people to find out what the anti-war movement around the world is doing.
“We need to come away from this conference with much broader ties in the area.
“Whatever the decisions made at the conference, we are not just there to listen, but to come away with something concrete.”
For full details of the conference go to www.stopwar.org.uk