Passionate about peace

4th June 2004 at 01:00
One of Paulette North's first memories was seeing her father cry as they sat together watching television in a boarding house in Margate.

Her father, who came from North Vietnam, had just seen news reports that civilians in his home country had been injured and killed by US napalm attacks.

Four decades later, Mrs North is now a passionate anti-war activist who fits in protests against military action in Iraq around her day job as a secondary school teacher in Bristol.

She is one of three teachers who will be standing in the European elections next week for Respect, an anti-war party backed by playwright Harold Pinter and film-maker Ken Loach.

Mrs North, 48, said the horrors of the conflict in Iraq had been brought home to staff at her school, the Bristol Academy, because several pupils are Iraqi refugees. "They were telling us that many more Iraqis were being killed over there, long before it was on the news," she said.

Mrs North is being assisted with her canvassing by one of her former pupils, Hodan Addawe, a 16-year-old Somali refugee. The teacher said she wished Hodan could stand for the party instead of her, because the teenager had given a beautiful speech at a meeting in Bristol.

Mrs North, whose mother was Jamaican, said that part of her reason for joining Respect was its commitment to asylum-seekers' rights and its opposition to racism. "In the past year there has been a rise in racism and Islamaphobia - the pupils are noticing it as well."

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