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United National Antiwar Coalition conference a big success

By Tom Burke

Lynne Stewart (left, front) with husband Ralph Poynter and antiwar  activists

Secaucus, NJ – Over 300 people attended the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) convention at a hotel here, May 8-10. Prominent anti-war leaders and experts came together in an effort to stop the endless U.S. wars and occupations.

Joe Lombardo, Sara Flounders, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Medea Benjamin, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Joe Iosbaker and many other important anti-war leaders spoke. People’s lawyer Lynne Stewart made a special appearance, warmly greeted by revolutionary hip-hop artists Rebel Diaz, before making a passionate speech on Saturday afternoon. Panels included, “Endless Imperial Wars” and “Free Political Prisoners.” There were dozens of workshops about international solidarity and connecting with other movements here at home to infuse anti-war politics.

Mark Burton, the lawyer for Colombian revolutionary Simon Trinidad, also known as Ricardo Palmera, spoke in workshop and on a panel. Burton said, “There is a growing international movement to free Simon Trinidad from the Florence, Colorado Supermax prison where he is held as a political prisoner.”

Kait McIntyre of the Anti-War Committee Chicago said of the weekend, “The speakers at the conference were energetic, concise, and most importantly, dedicated to including other movements in their vision of the future of the anti-war movement. They emphasized the connections of these movements and the necessity of working together to fight back against Wall Street and the 1%.”

McIntyre led a workshop about the Palestine solidarity movement and the importance of protesting U.S. government support and funding of Israel. In another workshop she spoke about the growing movement against the Boeing corporation’s drones and described the Anti-War Committee Chicago’s noisy protests outside Boeing’s headquarters.

Joe Iosbaker, a UNAC leader said, “The UNAC conference was the first national meeting of the anti-war movement since the march against NATO in 2012 in Chicago. That was the largest national anti-war protest against the wars of the Obama administration. UNAC plays a leading role against drone warfare, proxy armies, so called color revolutions and the U.S. backing for the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

Iosbaker spoke on the opening plenary and urged the movement to mobilize in support of Rasmea Odeh when her appeal takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio in September. Adopted unanimously, the resolution reads, “UNAC supports the call for justice For Rasmea Odeh. The appeal of her conviction will take place in Cincinnati in September. We join with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network and the Rasmea Defense Committee to pack the courthouse when the appeal occurs.”

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