What is CamSAW?
Cambridge Students against the War (CamSAW) was formed in October 2001 in response to the bombing of Afghanistan by America and its allies. We are a group of fairly diverse views, but united in our belief that bombing innocent peoples represents no kind of solution at all to the kind of terror attacks witnessed in the US on September 11th.
In subsequent months CamSAW has developed a position against various other policies justified by our governments as being part of the "war on terrorism". We have defended the principle of Universal Human Rights, expressing concerns both about the treatment of prisoners of war held at Guantanomo bay, and about the erosion of our own civil liberties through new so-called "anti-terrorism" legislation. We have campaigned against the escalation of the war to other areas such as Iraq, and called for a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Now a larger and more dynamic group than ever before, we are campaigning against American and British plans to launch war against Iraq, a war which we believe would be wholly unjustified and which could have potentially disastrous consequences for the Iraqi people and for regional stability. We are working with many local and national groups who are opposed to this war and campaigning for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
CamSAW is a democratic and non-hierarchical organisation. We have no formal membership system, and no executive committee. Decisions are taken at our weekly open meetings, and activities are planned and carried out by anyone who wants to get involved. This might sound like an unwieldy way of going about things, but so far it has worked rather well. We think itís important that those who want to get involved have every opportunity to do so, and that those who are involved get to define what it is they are involved in.
What does CamSAW do?
CamSAW has been involved in a vast array of different antiwar activities since its inception, and we like to experiment with as many different campaigning and fundraising methods as possible. We've also worked with and lent support to a variety of local and national groups that share our opposiiton to the war.
Hereís a vague summary of some of the stuff we've been up to:
CamSAW meetings are mostly well attended and vibrant. We tend to spend the first hour discussing and sharing information about recent developments relevant to the "war on terrorism", and then devote the remainder of the evening to planning our activities. Coming to meetings is generally the way people first get involved with CamSAW - meetings are very informal and relaxed, and anyone can contribute.
CamSAW recognises the importance of applying targeted lobbying pressure to those in positions of power. We have lobbied the powers-that-be in a variety of ways, from co-ordinating visits to our local MP to designing fax and email based actions which targeted international leaders and UN delegates.
We have been involved in the organisation of transport down to the national Stop the War demos in London, and also organised our own demo here in Cambridge last November. We organised many smaller-scale direct action campaigning events around Cambridge. These have ranged from mass banner painting sessions in Market Square, to street theatre featuring the mistreatment of "prisoners" in orange boiler suits to highlight the unjust treatment of prisoners at Guantanomo bay in Cuba. On October 31st, 2002 CamSAW-made antiwar armbands were worn by thousands of Cambridge Students and Lecturers, and 230 joined us on a symbolic occupation of University Premises.
CamSAW recognises the importance of keeping the antiwar movement as well-informed as possible, and spreading its message widely. We've organised and helped other groups organise teach-ins featuring prominent academics and antiwar campaigners. All of these events have been well-attended. We have also produced a range of antiwar leaflets and pamphlets which we distribute around the University and the town.
CamSAW has raised money both to fund its own campaigns and to go towards the humanitarian effort in Afghanistan, and we've had a lot of fun in the process. We've organised a variety of evening events, ranging from classical music and poetry reading to drum and bass. We've provided catering at many of our own events, and "cafe CamSAW" is now renowned for its excellent homemade snacks. We've run bars at college bops, and made and sold badges and T-shirts.
Get involved with CamSAW!
CamSAW strives to be an extremely open and inclusive organisation, and new people are getting involved all the time. The most obvious way to get involved is simply to turn up to a meeting and start contributing. Alternatively email us (email@example.com), or join our mailing list, firstname.lastname@example.org