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Rostam Pourzal (L), Fred Muzin (R)
Fred Muzin introduces Rostam Pourzal
In response to the dangerously escalating threats of a US war on Iran, the recently founded Canadians Against War organized a forum against war on Iran with the endorsement and participation of the Iranian Community Against War (ICAW) and Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO). Last Saturday January 19th, over 170 people came to the SFU Harbour Center to hear special guest Rostam Pourzal speak against war, and to show that they, as members of the Iranian community, as people living in Vancouver, and as antiwar and social justice activists, will join in calling for no war on Iran!
Before the event had even started, participants began to think of what war on Iran could look like, as a slideshow showing Afghanistan and Iraq before and after war was shown. How real is this threat to Iran? As peace-loving and humanist people living in Vancouver, opening a newspaper in the last few months has come with increasingly clearer reports of the US preparing for an attack on Iran. This is familiar when we recall the preparations that took place prior to the mass destruction that was the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, we see daily reports of direct killings like air-raids that strike families in Afghan villages, and slow deaths such as in Iraq where there is a cholera outbreak due to the fact that 70% of Iraqis live without access to clean drinking water.
With the US currently stepping up their propaganda against Iran, their military buildup in the Persian Gulf, and their search for allies in preparation for an attack on Iran, this forum in opposition to any attack and a continued campaign against war on Iran is necessary.
The event featured Rostam Pourzal, who is a social scientist, long time social justice campaigner and US Chairperson of Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII). Based in Washington, DC as an independent researcher and organizer for human rights, he advocates direct and sustained dialog without pre-conditions between Iran and the United States. Mr. Pourzal visits Iran regularly and has served on the boards of several Iranian-American organizations, as well as he has been interviewed on dozens of well-known news broadcasts.
The forum started out with Canadians Against War organizer Jasmin Ramsey, who welcomed everyone to the event and spoke about why Canadians Against War formed, in the face of wars effecting people around the world and the necessity of uniting to oppose the destruction of countless human lives. Canadians Against War (CAW) is an independent organization of dedicated and passionate Canadians committed to promoting peace around the world. Through the creation of an interactive community website and the use of communications and conferencing technology, CAW plans to organize member groups across Canada while also establishing a foundation from which members can plan, organize and promote peace and anti-war activities.
Then a film created by organizers of Canadians Against War and Mobilization Against War and Occupation was shown, with the title “Don’t Iraq Iran”. After seeing breathtakingly beautiful photos of Iran’s cities, landscapes, and people, images of war in Iraq brought the reality of what an attack on Iran would look like to the forefront of the audience’s minds.
Jasmin Ramsey reflected on the theme of the slideshow and then introduced the MC for the event, Fred Muzin, who is the President of the Hospital Employees Union. Fred opened the forum by stressing that as we have seen the destruction of the US agenda around the world, as well as the war at home against poor and working people in North America, we must continue to organize forums and actions to counter these attacks.
After Fred Muzin, Rostam Pourzal was introduced and welcomed to the microphone. His talk centered around three questions relating to the US policy towards Iran. Number 1 was “whether Iran is dangerous and a threat to peace.” For anyone who reads mainstream media, this question is often posed as a statement from the mouths of the US government. Mr.Pourzal explained various excuses used by the US to substantiate this statement, from the defunct claims of nuclear weapons (proved incorrect by the US’s own National Intelligence Estimate) to the rumors that Iran is meddling in other countries affairs. This was in regard to Iran helping so called “insurgents” in Iraq, and countered by Mr.Pourzal’s logic of, even if this is the case, hasn’t the most dangerous, invasive and unwanted “meddling” been the US occupation of Iraq?
The second question was “If Iran is a danger, what is the best way to reduce the danger of Iran?” which was paired with the second question of “If there are ways other than war to make Iran’s threat less, why is the US not using those options.” Together this exposed the US governments real agenda of seeking hegemony in the Middle East, as the US policy is to attempt to isolate and provoke Iran, and use any chance to drive up support for an invasion rather than avoid confrontation.
Rostam Pourzal then answered some of the many questions from the audience, facilitated by the MC Fred Muzin, and any unanswered questions were recorded to be answered later. As conversations continued after the end of the event, the mood of the participants was that of people resolved to carry on from this forum to establish a campaign against the US war drive against Iran.
A happy winner of the doorprize!
MAWO supports the event