March 16, 2008 - International Antiwar Conference
Marking the 5th Anniversary of the US/UK Invasion & Occupation of Iraq
Seattle Weekend of Action Poster (left image) and Vancouver Weekend of Action Poster (right image). Click smaller image to link to Poster.
"Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine: What We Have Learned from the New Era of War & Occupation and What Are the Prospects for Building an Effective Antiwar Movement"
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MAWO Co-Chair Janine Solanki Opens the Conference
Jane Cutter, Coordinator of International ANSWER-Seattle
Discussion was lively!
Brendan Funtek and Drew Hendricks from Olympia Port Militarization Resistance
MAWO Co-Chair Alison Bodine gives the closing presentation at the conference.
Sunday March 16th, antiwar activists from both sides of the Canada-US border participated in this important conference as part of the World Against War – Global Action week happening around the world marking the 5th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In Seattle, organizers from MAWO in Vancouver joined with activists from Washington State in the US to discuss the most pressing issues facing antiwar organizers in the US and Canada today.
Speakers at the conference included Ali Yerevani, the political editor of Fire This Time newspaper, who attended the conference through video-link. He set the tone for the conference by putting it into a political framework with the Conference Opening entitled “The Battle of Ideas in the New Era of War and Occupation.” In a world of increasing imperialist attacks against oppressed nations at home and abroad, Ali outlined the role that antiwar and social justice activists have in fighting to end war and build a better world for all people.
The next two presentations focused on the devastating situations on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and the strategies of the US and Canadian ruling classes to plunder those nations. After years of occupation by imperialist countries like the US and Canada, it is time for the antiwar movement to make stronger connections across borders. Jane Cutter, the Coordinator of International ANSWER–Seattle and Kira Koshelanyk, Executive member of Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and member of the Fire This Time Newspaper Editorial Board, demonstrated this concretely by sharing with the conference the perspectives of both organizers in the US and Canada. Jane discussed the historical and current perspective on the imperialist struggle for control over the Middle East as a strategic region. Kira presented on Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan, shedding light on the false image of Canada as a ‘peacekeeping country’. Both presentations emphasized the importance of one united demand: “Self-Determination for Oppressed Nations!”
Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) organizers from Olympia, WA then brought a report about PMR organizing. Brendan Funtek and Drew Hendricks talked about the PMR actions that have successfully stopped and slowed down military shipments to occupied Iraq in and out of Ports in Washington State and how to organize PMR in your own area.
MAWO Co-Chair Alison Bodine, who was banned from Canada this fall after being politically targeted by the Canada Border Services Agency (for more information see http://alisonbodine.blogspot.com) was the closing speaker of the conference. In the presentation “The Central Challenge to Humanity Today: Building a Broad and Effective Antiwar Movement,” Alison outlined the necessary struggle for a united antiwar movement that is able to join together under broad demands and a clear vision of a world without war with the energy and consistency in action to expand.
The discussion periods after the presentations were animated with organizers and activists from the US and Canada adding their perspectives and analysis. This element is a vital part of organizing these conferences in order that antiwar organizers can discuss, debate and develop the theoretical and political analysis that is the basis for our actions. It is not enough for us to simply be active against the war; we must have a clearly outlined goals and strategy.
This International conference was the first of its kind organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) working together with many partners across the border. The conference marked the beginning of what must be many more of such cross-border conferences by antiwar groups all along the US and Canada border in order to strengthen our work and common interests.
The conference was also a success only with the support, participation and hard work of the conference endorsers in Washington: ANSWER Seattle, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee, and World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime. This conference was only the beginning to building a strong and united relationship with antiwar organizers in the US; to end this new era of war and occupation we have no other option.