On the second anniversary of the US/France/Canada invasion of Haiti...
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More than 150 people gathered, despite the rain, to participate in the rally organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) on February 26th. The rally was marking the second anniversary of the US/France/Canada invasion of Haiti in February 2004. Central demands of the rally were “US/UK Out of Iraq!”, “Canada Out of Afghanistan!”, and “Canada/US/France Out of Haiti!”.
The program began with an introduction by Aaron Mercredi, a local Metis youth activist with Mobilization Against War and Occupation and Redwire Native Youth Media. Aaron acknowledged the unceded Coast Salish territory on which Vancouver sits, and spoke about the oppression of Indigenous people in Canada, and the struggles of Indigenous people against colonialism.
Following Aaron, Shaun Evans, an organizer with Langara Students United Against War and Occupation, spoke about the devastating effects of war and occupation on students in Canada and around the world.
Speaking about the expansion of imperialist attack to Latin America was Jane Juanova of the Free the Cuban Five Committee – Vancouver. Jane outlined the case of the “Cuban Five” - five Cuban heroes who are held unjustly in US jails for defending their country against Miami-based anti-Cuban terrorism.
Speaking further on increased imperialist aggression towards Latin America was Raul Gatica, an organizer with Consejo Indigena Popular de Oaxaca – Ricardo Flores Magon (CIPO-RFM). Raul connected the direct military attack on the people of Haiti with the increased threats and attacks on people throughout Latin America – from Cuba, to Venezuela, to Mexico.
The next speaker was Mohammad Shafiq of the Zawiya Foundation Shafiq discussed the era of war and occupation from the perspective of a Muslim person, speaking about working together to bring peace. He further condemned the attacks on the people of Iraq, and spoke in support of the resistance of the Iraqi people to the occupation of their country.
Asif Ali Shah, an organizer with United Muslim Alliance and MAWO spoke next, discussing the hypocrisy of the claims of imperialist countries that they are “building democracy” in the Middle East, when this has only amounted to more pain and suffering for people throughout nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Shah also spoke out against the racist and Islamaphobic cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that were published earlier this year.
The last speaker of stage was Ali Yervani, editor of the Fire This Time newspaper. Ali gave a comprehensive perspective of the era of war and occupation, and what it means for oppressed people around the world. Ali discussed the lies of the imperialist war drive around the world – that the claims of bringing “democracy” and “stability” to countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti have all been false. He also opened up the question of Iran, discussing the enormous and devastating impact an attack on Iran would have on oppressed people throughout the world.
Reading the resolution to close the rally was Michael Van Fleet, the Aboriginal Students’ Liason at Kwantlen College. Michael closed the rally to cheers from the crowd, concluding that, as poor, working, and oppressed people, we will continue to fight back against imperialist war and occupation.
On this important day, marking the second anniversary of the invasion of Haiti, the energy of the rally was evident. Many people braved the rain to stay throughout the entire program of dynamic speakers. People on the streets showed a high level of interest in the rally, especially regarding Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and Haiti. This interest showed a clear space for continuing to organize against the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti, and to continue to call for an Independent Public Inquiry into Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan.