By Omar Ali
The San Francisco chapter of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), in partnership with the Unitarian Universalists for Peace, held a widely attended event on the ninth anniversary of the Iraq war. It had a diverse panel of speakers, and featured Ramsey Clark, former attorney general of the United States.
The first speaker at the event was Dr. Jess Ghannam, a clinical psychologist at University of California San Francisco Medical School in Global Health Sciences. Ghannam is widely recognized for his extensive work on the health impacts of war and occupation. He is also a leader of the Al-Awda Palestine Right of Return Coalition. He spoke about the dire public health consequences of war and occupation.
The next speaker was Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. She traveled to Iraq with delegations led by Ramsey Clark in 1997 and 1998, and filmed and produced the award-winning documentary “Genocide by Sanctions.”
Mike Prysner, an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward!, an organization of veterans and active-duty service members who are opposed to war and occupation, gave a presentation about the experience of soldiers in an imperialist war.
Dr. Henry Clark, the executive director of the West County Toxics Coalition and an internationally known fighter for environmental justice, spoke about the fight here at home against environmental devastation and racism caused by the oil companies, key beneficiaries of imperialist wars.
Nazila Bargshady, an activist with Teachers for Public Education and the ANSWER Coalition, who grew up in Iran, spoke about the sanctions, military threats and other forms of U.S. intervention in Iran.
Finally, Ramsey Clark spoke about his firsthand experience in Iraq during the sanctions and the effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people.
Clark, an internationally renowned progressive attorney and activist, has traveled many times to Iraq. In 1990-91 and 2002-03, he was a leading voice in the movement opposing war on the Iraqi people. Clark has been a leader in the movements against war, sanctions and blockades targeting Iraq, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Iran and other countries. For many years, he served as a legal representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the U.S. In 2003, Clark drafted articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others for war crimes in planning and carrying out a war of aggression against Iraq.
The teach-in was well attended by progressives from many different movements and communities. The diversity of the attendees demonstrates the sense of unity of different strata of the working class of this country in opposition to the war against the Iraqi masses.