February 22,, 2008 Chapel Hill, North Carolina – For John Heuer, burning a fake draft card on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus was a sort of deja vu. Heuer said he burned draft cards in 1971 while refusing to be part of President Nixon’s army. He put his cigarette lighter to a symbolic card Thursday to support a student group’s anti-war rally.
“It’s important to get the word out in a creative way,” said Heuer, a retired UNC facilities designer.
About 30 people attended the brief noon rally in the Pit outside the Student Union. Members of UNC-CH Students for a Democratic Society handed out fake draft cards and sarcastically solicited passers-by to sign up for military duty in Iraq.
War is peace, the protesters said mockingly. For permanent peace, we need permanent war, they said.
The rally featured two speakers who were scheduled to participate in a campus teach-in about the war Thursday night.
Dahlia Wasfi, whose mother is American and father is Iraqi, began speaking out internationally after visiting occupied Iraq in 2004 and 2006.
“My family in Iraq has been liberated,” she said, “liberated from water, food, security and health care.”
Iraq war veteran Jason Hurd served in Baghdad from November 2004 to November 2005. He said one of his jobs was to shoot at anything that came within 50 meters of military vehicles.
“I went to Iraq to help people, but instead I ended up shooting civilians,” Hurd said. The people said they never had to worry about their safety before the Americans arrived, he said.
Hurd, who said he now takes medication to deal with nightmares and flashbacks, serves as president of the Asheville chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The organization, founded in 2004, calls for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, reparations to the Iraqi people for the damage they have suffered, and full benefits and support for troops returning home.
Despite the opening sarcasm, graduate student Tamara Tal said SDS is serious about ending the war.
“The majority of Americans want this war to end,” she said. “We need to stand up, speak out and end it.”