PRESS RELEASE Friday 23rd November 2001

Birmingham Stop the War Coalition
Press Officers: Rumy Husan and Shaz Manir
Press phones: 07951851645 and 07779165474

Press Release: Anti-war Protest at Blair's Visit to Birmingham

This Friday morming, about 70 members of Birmingham University Stop the War Group and supporters protested loudly against Tony Blair when he came to the university to open the new building of the European Research Institute.

The group is made up of staff and students at the university of Birmingham who are opposed to the war in Afghanistan. James Cunningham, an undergrduate student said: "The war is by no means over yet. As a group, we are concerned that this war could be extended to other countries such as Iraq, where there have already been one and a half million deaths as a result of US and British sanctions.

"The US and UK governments talk about democracy and freedom, while systematically attacking our civil liberties and supporting violent, undemocratic regimes."

Sue Blackwell, a lecturer at the University, said: "The University of Birmingham has spent 1.3 million pounds so far on this building, on top of the 4.8 million pounds it has received from the Government's Joint Infrastructure Fund. Yet it claims to be in the throes of a financial crisis so severe that it is having to threaten dozens of my colleagues with redundancy.

"Meanwhile we have a Labour government which does not have enough money to fund a proper system of student grants. Some of the students I teach are having to work every day of the week just to pay their bills. It doesn't leave them time to study.

"The government claims it can't fund the Health Service without private finance. Just down the road from here they are letting profiteers build a new PFI hospital at a cost of 250 million pounds, while closing down the Selly Oak and QE hospitals with a loss of 200 acute beds. Yet they can afford to spend billions on bombing Afghanistan."

Notes to editors:

  1. Birmingham University Stop the War group is an informal coalition of staff and students who meet to discuss national and international issues related to the war in Afghanistan. It sent two coaches of demonstrators to the 100,000 strong rally in London last Sunday. Members hold a wide range of political and religious views: they are unlikely to agree, for instance, on whether or not Britain should join the Euro!

  2. Birmingham University Stop the War group is in no way officially endorsed by the University of Birmingham.

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It was last updated on 23rd November 2001