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Southampton to host anti-war initiative

Published: 15 January 2002

A major event being hosted early next month in Southampton will bring together people in universities and beyond who have opposed Government responses to the events of 11 September 2001. Entitled a 'Thinking and Doing' conference, the event has been organized by the anti-war group at the University of Southampton.

"We knew in October that lots of people were profoundly opposed to the war in Afghanistan-but the Government wasn't listening," says group spokesperson Mark Levene. "If it's going to listen in the future we have to build a strong but broad national movement of opposition to many of its policies, both at home and abroad. But to do that we need to be genuinely informed as well as critical.

"That's why we want to bring together university people with other professionals, practitioners and activists so that we can genuinely pool our expertise and knowledge."

The conference will consist of workshops on key themes, including international aid and refugees, the media, civil liberties and the law, and how to build an anti-war movement after September 11. Other sessions will address issues of gender and fundamentalism, and the response of medical practitioners to terror and trauma. This reflects in part the wide range of issues generated by the events of 11 September and their aftermath.

"A key problem in this country now is that when it comes to issues of real importance, there is no forum for dissent or opposition, least of all in Parliament," says Levene. "The Government dragged the country into a war with complete impunity. It then proceeded to undermine our framework of human rights. Meanwhile its recourse to war may have done serious damage to the fabric of ethnic relations here in Britain.

"We think it's time there was an authoritative voice which challenged the direction it's taking. Which is why we think we need to build a national network of opposition in our universities."

Notes for editors

  1. The Thinking and Doing Conference takes place at Southampton Institute, Sir James Matthews Conference Centre, Above Bar Street, Southampton, from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm, on Saturday 2 February.
  2. Further details and lists of speakers will be circulated nearer the time. The Conference is open to the public, and all media are welcome to attend.
  3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £200 million.

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