Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boston Common Rally Saturday Against Iraq War


On Saturday, October 27th, people from all walks of life will gather in Boston for a massive New England regional demonstration, part of a nationally coordinated day of protest against the war in Iraq called by United for Peace and Justice. Regional demonstrations will be held in 11 cities around the country. The New England event will start with a rally at the Boston Common bandstand starting at Noon, followed by a march to Copley Plaza from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.

The Boston demonstration is being organized by New England United, a coalition of a large number of peace and anti-war organizations in the New England area. The action in Boston has been endorsed by over a hundred organizations including several state labor federations, and the list is growing daily.

For more information on the event, please visit the New England United website at http://newenglandunited.org/ . LINK AT BOTTOM.

New England United is working together with allied groups around the region to build a massive protest on October 27 and to help create a social movement that can stop the Iraq war and shift the political agenda in this country to further global justice and fund human needs. Following are the central demands that have been endorsed by New England United: "Bring All The Troops Home Now; End All Funding for the Iraq War Now; Support Our Communities, Fund Human Needs; No Attack on Iran; Stop the Attacks on Civil Liberties, Defend Human Rights."

Speakers for the event include noted historian Howard Zinn; John Olsen (President, Connecticut AFL-CIO); Felix Arroyo (Member, Boston City Council); Gabriel Camacho (Proyecto Voz, American Friends Service Committee); Shep Gurwitz (Veterans for Peace); Liam Madden (Iraq Veterans Against the War); Merrie Najimy (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee); Wayne Smith (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee); Rostam Pourzal (Iranian-American specialist on human rights); Dahlia Wasfi (Iraqi-American MD); Jessica Zamiara (student, University of Vermont), and members of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. The event will also include cultural performances by Son of Nun (political hip-hop), David Rovics (topical folk) and other artists and groups. The final program will be announced shortly.


Salma Abu Ayyash
Human Rights Activist

Salma Abu Ayyash, a Palestinian-American Cambridge resident, is a mother, an actress, an engineer and an activist for Palestinian rights. She currently teaches science at a Boston High School. She is co-founder of Tawassul (T-a-w-a-s-o-l), a non-profit organization for promoting Palestinian arts and culture which recently produced the first Boston Palestine Film Festival.

Melida Arredondo
Gold Star Families for Peace

Mélida (pronounced MEH-lee-duh) Arredondo is a first generation Costa Rican American born in New York City. She grew up with a physical disability and as the interpreter for her Spanish speaking family. She obtained her Bachelors from UMASS Boston and a Masters from Florida International University.

Her two stepsons Alex and Brian and husband Carlos have been the center of her life since marrying in 1997. When Alex made his first adult decision at the age of 17 to join the United States Marine Corps, she opted not to oppose for many reasons. The US was not at war. The challenges of being a divorced family made her wants to seek familial peace. She opted not to protest despite Alex wanting her to speak out if she chose.

A year after Alex was killed, Carlos and she began to tour the country lecturing about the injustices related to war, lack of supplies for the GIs, diminishing Vet benefits, the plight of military families, recruitment targeting of Latino youth and their own personal story. Mélida has written several opinion pieces in community newspapers and blogs. She has appeared on local, national and international television and radio. She lives in Roslindale, MA with her husband and two dogs.

Felix Arroyo
Boston City Councillor

A resident of Boston for over 25 years, Boston City Councillor Felix D. Arroyo is a public servant, educator, organizer, activist, father, and grandfather. Raised in a public housing project by his late father, Felicito Arroyo, a World War II Veteran and police detective, and his late mother, Elisa Arroyo, a garment seamstress and an ILGWU member, Councillor Arroyo was instilled with a deep respect for hard work and education.

Councillor Arroyo was the first member of his family to earn a college degree. He completed his undergraduate studies and received a Masters in Secondary Education at the University of Puerto Rico. Councilor Arroyo continued with his graduate studies at Harvard University, MIT, and the University of Puerto Rico.

Councillor Arroyo has served as a Boston City Councillor At-Large since January 2003. He has advocated for the equitable distribution of services to Boston's wonderfully diverse neighborhoods. He has focused his work on six critical issues facing the Council and Boston – Education, Affordable Housing, Economic Vitality, Health, the Environment, and Public Safety.

Councillor Arroyo shocked many in 1992 when he resigned from his salaried position as the Director of Personnel for the City of Boston to accept a volunteer position on the Boston School Committee. Serving on the School Committee for eight years, he led the fight to preserve bilingual education, opposed the MCAS as the key criterion for grade promotion or graduation, and sought to preserve services for children with special needs.

Medea Benjamin
Global Exchange, Code Pink

Medea is a cofounder of both CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange. She has been a tireless advocate for social justice for more than 20 years. Described as "one of America's most committed -- and most effective -- fighters for human rights" by New York Newsday, and called "one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement" by the Los Angeles Times, Medea has distinguished herself as an eloquent and energetic figure in the progressive movement.

Gabriel Camacho
Project Voice - American Friends Service Committee

Gabriel Camacho was born in the South Bronx. His Mexican father first came to the U.S. under the infamous Bracero "guest" worker program which lasted from the 1940's to the early 1960's. His Colombian mother fled that country in the 1950's during the ten-year civil war known as La Violencia. Both parents worked in unionized industries in New York City where they met.

Gabriel majored in Anthropology at the State University of New York in Albany. He conducted his field work in El Ki’ché in 1979, where he witnessed the Guatemalan military occupation of the Maya Highlands.

Gabriel has been a life long union member and has worked as a union organizer and contract negotiator for the Service Employees International Union, and the Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees International Union. In 1999 Gabriel founded the Massachusetts Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, a national constituency group charted by the AFL-CIO.

Currently Gabriel is President of the Board of Directors of Centro Presente, an immigrant based community organization in Cambridge; and Chair of the Executive Committee of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, a community &union coalition; and a member of UNITE HERE Local 66L at the AFSC.

Shep Gurwitz
Veterans for Peace

Shep Gurwitz served with the 196th light infantry brigade and the 173rd airborne in Vietnam between 1967-1968. He has been an activist with Vietnam Veterans against the War , the Council for Native American Solidarity, Veterans for Peace and has worked to promote peace for, many years. He worked with the Dakota Youth project and is currently working with Veterans for Peace to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After returning from Vietnam, as part of the nation-wide protest against the U.S. mining of Haiphong Harbor, Shep was one of a group of veterans who occupied the U.S.S. Constitution, Old Ironsides, in Boston Harbor. He has spoken across the U.S., in Canada, Britain and Holland, and in recent years has teamed up with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War to speak in community forums across New England.

Liam Madden
Iraq Veterans Against the War

Liam Madden serves on the Board of Directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Liam is a native of Vermont who recently completed a four year commitment with the United States Marine Corps. Following his tour in Iraq, Liam co-founded the Appeal for Redress, a campaign of over 2,000 service members who demand that congress end the war in Iraq. Liam is currently a student at Northeastern University in Boston.

He has been interviewed by numerous national publications and media outlets including 60 minutes, CNN, Al Jazeera, The Nation Magazine, National Public radio, BBC
and more. He has undertaken a speaking tour of college campuses and I organized an IVAW bus tour to east coart military installations this summer.

Merrie Najimy
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Merrie Najimy is President of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is a grassroots civil rights organization based in Washington, DC which welcomes people of all backgrounds, faiths, and ethnicities as members. The local chapter of the ADC or ADCMA is committed to empowering Arab-Americans to embrace their identity and advocate for their civil rights in the state of Massachusetts. The ADCMA works towards this objective through civil rights advocacy, educating the general American population on Arab-American culture and issues, and by building community within Arab-Americans in Massachusetts.

A second generation Arab American, Merrie teaches elementary school in Concord, MA. Currently she is the president of the Massachusetts chapter of the ADC (ADCMA), a founder of the Boston Committee for Palestinian Rights, and the president of her teacher’s local, The Concord Teachers Association. As a teacher, she devotes much of her time to creating an active anti-bias curriculum that she implements with her students and trains teachers in anti-bias education.

John W. Olsen

John serves as President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Rocky Hill, the state labor federation is comprised of approximately 900 affiliated unions. There are approximately 237,000 union members in Connecticut, with nearly 16 percent of all Connecticut workers belonging to a union. Mr. Olsen was first elected President of the state labor federation in 1988. He was most recently re-elected as AFL-CIO President in September 2001.

Under Mr. Olsen's leadership, the AFL-CIO's commitment to political education, legislative action, grassroots organizing and community mobilization has strengthened organized labor's voice as an advocate for all of Connecticut's working families. A native of Greenwich, CT, Olsen got his start in the labor movement as a journeyman plumber and went on to serve as President of UA Local 133, Plumbers and Pipefitters. In addition to his statewide labor leadership positions, Olsen also served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Connecticut State Building and Construction Trades Council.

Olsen also has more than 25 years of political activism and volunteerism. In December 2000, he was elected to serve as Chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party. He has been a member of the Democratic National Committee, as well as the Democratic State Central Committee. In 1994, Mr. Olsen co-chaired the State Central Convention Platform Committee. He is a past chair of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee and now sits on the Democratic Town Committee in Clinton, where he resides.

Mr. Olsen represents the labor movement on numerous boards and commissions, including the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, Connecticut Innovations Inc., and the Twenty-First Century Action Plan Commission. Mr. Olsen lectures frequently on labor and workplace issues, and has been interviewed and published widely in the media on issues related to jobs, the economy, politics and legislation. He hosts Talkin·Union, a monthly radio program heard live on WATR-1320 AM in Waterbury, CT, and is a frequent contributor to Connecticut Work, a twice-a-month labor program reaching 750,000 Connecticut cable households.

Rostam Pourzal
Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran

Since he retired from business in 2001, Rostam Pourzal has worked full-time in Washington, DC as an independent researcher and organizer for human rights.
He holds a graduate degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on modernization and social upheaval. He advocates direct and sustained dialog without pre-conditions between Iran and the United States.

Mr. Pourzal visits Iran regularly and has served on the boards of several Iranian-American organizations. He has been interviewed on dozens of well-known broadcasts, including Pacifica Radio, CNN International, Aljazeera, and MSNBC.
In 2004, he convinced the Fellowship of Reconciliation to send two goodwill delegations (three dozen American citizens) to Iran. The ground-breaking initiative was widely reported on BBC, CNN, and other world media.

Wayne Smith
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

As the eldest son of 11 children, Wayne Smith learned important life-lessons following the death of his father at the age of 10. By overcoming despair, poverty, and racial prejudice, Wayne became aware of an inner strength and his ability to be responsible and compassionate towards others.

After high school, Wayne joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps, spent 18 months in Vietnam as a combat medic and had the good fortune to work with the Vietnamese people. After the war, he struggled like many veterans and eventually became one of our Nation's leading voices addressing the causes and consequences of war.

In 1998, Wayne returned to Vietnam, with 20 American veterans. Together with 20 Vietnamese former enemy soldiers, they rode bicycles 1,200 miles from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City to promote peace and reconciliation. Wayne is one of the veterans featured in the 1999 Emmy Award winning documentary, "Vietnam: A Long Time Coming".

For more than 30 years, Wayne has been an advocate for human rights and social justice. He has served in a leadership capacity with a number of prominent organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and as president of the Black Patriots Foundation. As executive director of The Justice Project, he successfully lobbied for passage of the Innocence Protection Act, a law that helped change the way the courts and the American people think about the death penalty.

Today, Wayne manages national and international programs with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee where he has the unique opportunity to defend civil liberties eroded by the Global War on Terror.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs including ABC Nightline, NBC News, CBS Evening News, the New York Times and National Public Radio. Wayne was also featured in two books: “American Patriots” by Gail Buckley and “Patriots” by Christian G. Appy.

Dahlia Wasfi
Iraqi-American MD

Iraqi American activist who has spoken out against the war in Iraq. Born in 1971 to a Jewish mother, and an Iraqi father, Wasfi spent her early childhood in Iraq, which was then under Saddam Hussein. In 1977, she returned with her family to the United States. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1997.

Wasfi visited Iraq for 3 months, on her return to the U.S. in March 2006, and based on her experiences, she has spoken out to end the occupation. In 2006, she spoke to a congressional forum on Iraq. “ I speak to you today on behalf of relatives on my mother’s side — Ashkenazi Jews who fled their homeland of Austria during Hitler’s Anschluss. It is for them that we say 'Never again.' I speak to you today on behalf of relatives on my father’s side, who are not living, but dying, under the occupation of this administration’s deadly foray in Iraq. From the lack of security to the lack of basic supplies to the lack of electricity to the lack of potable water to the lack of jobs to the lack of reconstruction to the lack of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they are much worse off now than before we nvaded. 'Never again' should apply to them, too."

Howard Zinn
Eminent Historian

Howard Zinn (born 1922) is best known for his popular historical writings and his activity in the civil rights and peace movements.

He was born on August 24, 1922, in New York City. During World War II, he served from 1943 to 1945 as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Air Force and participated in bombing missions in Europe. He was awarded an Air Medal and several battle stars.

In 1956 he moved to Atlanta, GA, to accept a post as chairman of the department of history and social science at Spelman College, an African-American women's school. During the seven years he taught there, Zinn saw and participated in some of the key events of the civil rights movement. He was shocked by the violence directed at African-Americans and dismayed by the federal government's failure to defend their rights more vigorously. Zinn was critical of President John Kennedy's administration. Though it was regarded as liberal by many Americans, it seemed to Zinn to be weak in response to demands for equality.

Zinn's study of one of the major civil rights organizations, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was published as SNCC: The New Abolitionists (1964). The book was both an impassioned first-hand description of the civil rights struggle and a cogent historical analysis of the modern movement's links with pre-Civil War abolitionism.

Zinn joined Boston University's Government Department in 1964 and remained a professor of political science there the rest of his career. He became well known in New Left circles for his opposition to United States military involvement in Vietnam. In his book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal (1967), he made a powerful case for reversing the Lyndon Johnson administration's policy of escalation. Zinn's role in the peace movement was not limited to his scholarly writings. Throughout the mid-1960s he was active in the American Mobilization Committee's national drive to bring an end to the United States intervention. In February 1968, he travelled to North Vietnam with the radical priest, Father Daniel Berrigan, to secure the release of three American bomber pilots shot down on air raids. As he had done earlier with his experiences in the civil rights movement, Zinn wrote articles that offered a first-hand account of his trip to Hanoi.

Zinn's A People's History of the United States (1980), surveyed all of American history from the point of view of the working classes and minority groups. He documented the history of race, sex, and class; the history of civil disobedience; how hopes for a more egalitarian society had been frustrated, and how a small, upper-class elite had retained its hold on power and wealth.


American Flatbread Co. (Waitsfield, VT)
American Friends Service Committee - Connecticut office
American Friends Service Committee – New England Region
American Friends Service Committee – South East New England Region
American Friends Service Committee – Vermont
Arlington United for Justice with Peace (MA)
Beneficent Congregational Church, United Church of Christ (Providence)
Bostonians for the Overthrow of King George
Boston Mobilization
Burlington Vermont Weekday Vigil Against War
Cambridge United for Justice with Peace
Kate Cloud and Jack Hamilton (Somerville, Mass.)
Code Pink - Western Mass. chapter
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism - Boston*
Connecticut Coalition for Peace and Justice
Connecticut Opposes War
Connecticut Socialist Action
Connecticut United for Peace
Franklin County Peace Alliance (VT)
Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition
Green Party of Rhode Island
Kathleen Guilmette and Patricia Lane (Lancaster, Mass.)
International Socialist Organization
Iraq Veterans Against the War -- Vermont chapter
Edward Kelley &Ferris Buck (North Fayston VT)
Kennebunks Peace Department
Rev. Joan Haner (Providence, RI)
C. Girvani Leerer (Allston, MA)
Helene G. Martin (Stowe, VT)
Massachusetts Peace Action
Middle East Crisis Committee (Woodbridge CT)
MoveOn/East Bay RI
Andrea Nash (Cambridge, Mass.)
Newton Dialogues on Peace and War
Palestinian American Congress
NH Peace Action
Pax Christi, Boston
Pax Christi Burlington (VT)
Peace and Justice Center (Burlington, VT)
L. Peattie (Boston)
Rhode Island Community Coalition for Peace
Anna Shenk (Somerville, Mass.)
Small Dog Electronics (Waitsfield, VT)
The Tiferet Center (MA)
United for Justice With Peace
Veterans for Peace, Maine Chapter 001
Watertown Citizens for Environmental Safety
Watertown-El Salvador Sister City
West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice
William A. and Martha Wilson, Block Island (RI)
Alan Zaslavsky (Cambridge, Mass.)

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