Yvonne Stewart’s son Sammy is on his first tour of duty in Iraq. He is stationed in Basra until next May.
Nevertheless she planned to join Rose Gentle on Wednesday this week to talk about why British troops should leave Iraq, at a meeting called by the Aberdeen Stop the War Coalition.
Yvonne spoke to Socialist Worker about why she was taking a stand against the war. “I don’t think the troops should be in Iraq,” she said. “Of course I want my son home and safe — but it’s more than that. The troops just shouldn’t be there in the first place.
“Sammy always wanted to be in the army and I signed his consent form when he joined because he was only 17. And I’m really proud of him — if he wasn’t in the army he’d probably be roaming the streets looking for work. It’s not easy for the boys round here.”
The lack of jobs in the Aberdeen area has attracted the attention of military recruiters, Yvonne adds.
“Just last Sunday some of the people from the local Stop the War group held a protest outside the recruitment office. The sign-up man spoke to them and admitted that he wouldn’t let his daughter join the army — but there he was, trying to send other people’s children to Iraq.
“It’s really hard for the families of those who are serving in Iraq, especially at this time with Christmas just around the corner.
“We’ve just got to keep on fighting to get our boys home. My heart goes out to Cindy Sheehan and to all those who have lost children. We have already lost so much in this war. Blair should back out now — or if he believes in it so much, why doesn’t he send his son?”
Wednesday’s meeting is being organised by Josh Brown from Aberdeen Stop the War Coalition. “Yvonne first came along to a Stop the War meeting to speak with Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq,” he says.
“I think there are two people leading the anti-war movement at the moment — Rose Gentle and Cindy Sheehan. And that is because what they say is undeniable. Bush and Blair are scared of these women because of that.
“It’s a huge recruitment area for the army around here and that is why it’s so important to build a really strong
military families campaign. Otherwise Bush and Blair won’t be slowed by the numbers who have died in their illegal war.
Josh adds that the International Peace Conference being organised by the Stop the War Coalition on 10 December is a valuable opportunity for anti-war campaigners.
He said, “It’s a chance for working class people — who form the vast majority of people against this war — to have a voice. It’s an opportunity for anti-war activists from around the world speak with one voice and say it’s time to get the troops home.”
“I’m from America myself, and I’m very encouraged to see the resurgence of the anti-war movement in the US. It is only the growing anti-war movement that can stop the madness of this war.
“I’m a member of the Unison union and we’re hoping to send a delegation to London in December. We have come through a period of battles within the local council over lots of issues. I think part of why people are ready to stand up for themselves has to do with the war and with seeing what this government is willing to do both at home and abroad.
“It’s really important to make sure that as many groups as possible send delegates to the conference.”