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Vigil in Montpellier, France

Account of solidarity demo in Montpellier, France
Account of an action in Montpellier, France

On Thursday October 23rd Americans for Peace and Justice, a French association who are part of the international coalition American Voices Abroad which itself is a member of the US coaltion United for Peace and Justice, held a candlelit peace vigil in the main square in Montpellier, to promote awareness of the US anti occupation march in DC and San Francisco Sat Oct 25. Around 20 people showed up. The local paper Herault du Jour did an interview with the lead organizer which came out the day of the vigil, and another local paper, Midi Libre ran a photo and article the next day. The story also ran on the local TV news on Friday.

Below is a brief account from one of the attendees:

I went to a candlelight vigil tonight with the rest of APJ to show support for the large demonstration in the U.S. on Saturday. We got some pretty good press for only having about 15 of us. John got his picture in the paper which gave us at least a front page blurb, and then a half-page interview on page two. Pamela
took the on-camera interview with the rest of us
standing around more or less behind her for support.

The highlight of the evening was when a young vietnamese woman came up to me to ask what was going on. We had a small sign explaining the demonstration in the U.S. and that we wanted to bring our troops home from Iraq, but she was absolutely baffled as to why we would be
demonstrating against our own government. She stopped mid-sentence more than one because she couldn't seem to find more expressive words to ask why we would do such a thing. After all, it is America valiantly bombing other countries and we are all Americans. It took me about 20 minutes to explain that the president doesn't have to listen to the will of the people and
that a lot of Americans actually do care about
helping, and not killing, others.

She thanked me profusely, multiple times, for us being there. Things like the war in Iraq and in her country, which she seemed especially bitter about, have given her a very bad opinion of the U.S. as a whole. Us being out and showing that not all Americans want war showed her that we're not all bad, and she was obviously relieved by that fact.

It's people like her that gives me a reason to want to be an activist. If I can occassionally only give hope to one person, then that alone is enough to get me out and try to change the world, one person at a time.
State-Sanctioned Anti-Americanism 30.Nov.2004 08:48

Ethan Alsruhe

In response to Frenchy O'Brien's article, one must bear in mind that the Vietnamese woman who was flabbergasted that not all Americans are war mongers is as much a victim of her government as the Iraqis are of ours. Vietnam, although making progress with free trade, is still a Communist nation with a rigidly controlled press. The fact that she did not know some Americans were against the Vietnam war let alone the Iraq war indicates that Vietnamese children are still taught that America is a monolithic evil empire and that one American is like any other. This is disturbing, as it means Vietnam has been re-writing history for the last thirty years. After all, massive protests by Americans helped end the war.

Burlington, VT