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August 28th 2004

August 28th March & Rally

On Saturday August 28th 200 youth, Muslims, students, women and people of color braved the cold and rain to come together for a protest rally to demand “HANDS OFF IRAQ!”

After weeks of bombings, shooting, killing and attacks against Iraqi people, and against Muslim holy sites and specifically against the Imam Ali mosque, people across the globe were taking to the streets in solidarity with the heroic struggle to kick US-led occupation forces out of Iraq! At the Vancouver Art Gallery we showed solidarity with a dynamic program of 12 diverse speakers that represented the breadth and depth of our unity.

City Councillor and long-time social justice activist Tim Louis spoke at the start of the rally against the recent attacks and ongoing occupation. Following Councillor Louis, was Pakistani-Canadian Muslim speaker Muzaffar Syed who spoke against the war and occupation. Following him, we were honored to hear from Shiek Hasneyn who also expressed the need for unity. Shiela Paterson, of the Peace and Justice Unit of the Anglican Church came to the stage next and showed the great solidarity of all human loving people across religion, race and lines of division. Brother Khosro, a great leader in the Muslim community spoke following Shiela, and again stressed unity and strength. Victor Finberg on the executive of the Vancouver-Kingsway NPD spoke next, and stressed the importance of building the antiwar movement and taking action. Mobilization Against War and Occupation organizer Seied Asif Ali Shah took the stage after Victor. He spoke of the continued atrocities from Middle East to Latin America and of the importance of organizing and fighting back. Chaudhry Sannulah, vice-president of Pakistan-Canada Association spoke net. This was Chaudhry’s third time speaking at a MAWO rally and he again gave a powerful and inspiring talk of unity, faith and a future of peace.

Next up was MAWO co-chair Kira Koshelanyk who took the stage with energy and enthusiasm. Kira led the crowd in chanting, and everyone shouted “US UK OUT!” “HANDS OFF NOW!” Following Kira, was an equally dynamic speaker, MAWO member and Korean student, Min Kyou. Min Kyou spoke of his experience getting involved in antiwar work, and he ended his speech with a powerful chant in Korean, which was echoed by many in the crowd. The program was concluded with two final speakers. We were honored to have Shamas Umedaly speak about his experiences and connection to our struggle today. Finally, Mike Krebs of the Blackfoot nation and organizer with MAWO, Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice and SFU First Nations Student Association spoke. Mike connected the fight in Iraq to the continued and expanding era of war and occupation. Mike also connected this to the historic theft of land, language, culture and resources of indigenous nations in Canada by the colonial settler state of Canada.

The rally ended with Alison Bodine, Youth-3rd World Alliance and MAWO organizer reading a resolution against war and occupation that was passed with enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. August 28th showed the development of unity and solidarity within the antiwar movement in Vancouver and the growing strength of the movement. The rally was characterized by new faces, broad diversity and an energy to bring us into the fall with strength and passion. As the MAWO Student Week Against War and Occupation is approaching, August 28th was a great step forward for our long-term work and ultimately to build a movement in Vancouver that can unite with the global antiwar movement and provide effective solidarity with the demands of the Iraqi people: END THE OCCUPATION! SELF-DETERMIANTION!