April 23 MAWO Rally -
In the streets to demand an end to war and occupation!
MAWO organizer Alison Bodine speaking in front of the US
On April 23, 2005 over 150 people in Vancouver came to the
streets to demand:
“STOP THE US WAR MACHINE!” “US/UK OUT OF IRAQ!”
“HANDS OFF SYRIA AND IRAN!” “END THE OCCUPATIONS
OF AFGHANISTAN, PALESTINE, HAITI and INDIGENOUS
NATIONS IN CANADA!”
At the sixteenth Mobilization Against War and Occupation
(MAWO) demonstration there was a renewed urgency in the
calls against imperialist war and occupation. As the US, EU
and Israel stepped up threats against oppressed nations in
the Middle East, the people of Vancouver stepped up
resistance and solidarity.
The rally began with an impassioned speech by Bijan, an
Iranian social justice activist and participant in the Iranian
revolution. He denounced the expansion of war and
occupation and was met with ardent cheers from the crowd.
Speakers followed Bijan, including Will Offley, BC Nurses
Union steward and independent “Left Turn” candidate in the
BC provincial election and Andrew Stromotich, founder of
Dropframe productions and Vancouver based antiwar
Momentum and energy grew as the program continued. Ian
Beeching and Albert Teng, two core organizers with UBC’s
Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and
Internationally (CAWOPII) took the stage together. They
spoke as student organizers and condemned the US war
drive and called for immediate sovereignty for Iraq. Ian ended
with a poem, bringing the fusion of art and politics – showing
the diversity and scope of the resistance movement.
The march was kicked off by Nicole Burton, member of
Langara Students United Against War and Occupation and
secretary of MAWO. Nicole brought the on the ground reality
of war and occupation in Iraq. She spoke of the suffering of
the Iraqi people, the theft of dignity by the occupation forces
and the two years of mass destruction and killing. Nicole also
spoke of the resistance of the Iraqi people and their
unfaltering resilience in the face of attacks by the most
powerful military machine in history.
With chants and cheers Nicole led the march from the steps
of the Vancouver Art Gallery into the streets of Vancouver,
voices echoing the demands of Iraqi people.
As the march wound through Vancouver’s downtown core, it
paused at the US consulate. Alison Bodine, president of
Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq & Internationally
and coordinator of the MAWO War Resisters Campaign
rallied the crowd. Alison spoke against the expansion of the
US war drive and led the rally in cries of “US OUT!” and
“STOP THE US WAR MACHINE!”
Upon arrival back to the Vancouver Art Gallery, the rally
reached its finale as Nasim Sedaghat took the stage. Nasim,
a former political prisoner, a participant in the Iranian
revolution, and a social justice fighter for decades, stood
strong and powerful against the era of war and occupation.
Through her words and passion the unity of the rally extended
beyond Vancouver, beyond BC, beyond Canada and became
a truly internationalist unity.
With a resolution to declare solidarity with anti-war and
anti-occupation fighters everywhere the demonstration was
brought to conclusion. The resolution demanded
self-determination for Iraq, for Palestine, for Afghanistan, for
Haiti and for Indigenous Nations in Canada.
After sixteen protest rallies over 1 ½ years, MAWO has led
the anti-war movement of Vancouver in action, in organizing
and in the fight to unite with the global movement and
decisively put an end to imperialist attacks, war and
MAWO organizer Albert Teng speaking at the Vancouver Art Gallery.