'Alternative Parliament' calls for outbreak of civil disobedience

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A mass campaign of civil disobedience, workplace walk-outs and rallies should be held on the day that war is declared on Iraq, peace campaigners at an "alternative Parliament" in Westminster declared yesterday.

A mass campaign of civil disobedience, workplace walk-outs and rallies should be held on the day that war is declared on Iraq, peace campaigners at an "alternative Parliament" in Westminster declared yesterday.

Hundreds of protesters from across the country, including clergymen, students and trade union leaders, convened for the People's Assembly at Westminster Central Hall opposite the House of Commons.

The event, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, saw campaigners call for as many people as possible to stop whatever they are doing when the military attack begins and join protests in the centre of every town and city. In London, a demonstration will assemble in Parliament Square on the day that war breaks out.

Post deliveries and train services could be hit because two of the unions expected to take part in wildcat strikes are the Communications Workers Union and Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. School pupils and college students also plan to walk out of lessons.

Andrew Murray, chairman of the Stop the War Coalition said: "A lot of people believe this is wrong and we discussed walkouts from workplaces."

Tony Benn, the former Labour MP, spoke at the meeting attended by 700 elected delegates from unions, the National Theatre, schools and colleges. Bob Crow, RMT union leader, said: "If Tony Blair is going to take illegal action then we should also take illegal action in the form of civil disobedience such as sit-ins. I think today's meeting has a lot of power." One young Iraqi woman from Birmingham denounced the proposed war as "cold blooded mass murder".

Katy Bannon, 21, a second year student at Wimbledon School of Art, said: "If war does go ahead, students throughout the country have arranged a mass walkout."

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