New Jersey Coalition Against War on Iraq

 

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Courier News - January 28, 2003

Protesters brave cold to champion peace in Middle East
By Jill D'Ambrosio / Staff Writer

Franklin (Somerset) - About a dozen anti-war protesters braved the late afternoon deep-freeze Monday to rally against potential combat with Iraq.

Hours after chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix stoked war fears when he reported the Middle Eastern nation "seems not to have genuinely accepted disarmament demands," the protesters lined Hamilton Street to speak out against the possible conflict.

"The people of Iraq have suffered enough," said Montgomery resident Bob Witanek while standing on the side of the busy road as several drivers honked their horns in passing.

Witanek, who organized Monday's rally, helped found Speak Out  Against War On Iraq, a grass-roots group that supports ending sanctions and pulling U.S. troops out of the Persian Gulf, He said

Blix's report should not serve as a pretext for war.

Witanek also emphasized that a war with Iraq could have a profoundly  negative impact on the fragile U.S. economy.

The 42-year-old computer consultant has initiated recent vigils and traveled to Washington, D.C., this month to join other protesters campaigning against a war as well.

Deb Huber, a retired computer specialist from Tewksbury, stood near Witanek holding an American flag with a peace sign in place of the usual white stars.

Huber decided it was important to voice her opinion on the eve of Bush's State of the Union speech and in the wake of Blix's report. She favors sparing American troops from harm in Iraq.

"I mean, who's going to benefit other than oil companies?" she said.

Holding a homemade sign, Linda Haboush of Franklin Township's Somerset section said she may cut her participation in the rally short due to the cold, but added that the cause was worth it.

"Absolutely," she said.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Jill D'Ambrosio can be reached at (908) 707-3148 or at