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July 28, 2008 - Picket Action
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MAWO Executive Committee Member Kira Koshelanyk reads the Media Statement for the Picket Action
David W, veteran of the Vietnam antiwar movement speaking at the picket
Some of the Picketers in front of the Recruiting Center
Aaron Mercredi, Indigenous Rights & Action Project (IRAP) speaking at the picket
Nita Palmer, Acting Co-Chair of MAWO & MAWO Executive Committee member gives the concluding statement in front of the Recruiting Center
Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!
July 28 Picket Report
On Monday July 28th, MAWO organizers and supporters came together with other peace-loving people at the Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Centre to protest Canada and NATO’s ongoing occupation of Afghanistan. This was the 44th picket organized at this location since 2005 by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO). The picket came on the heels of a brutal NATO attack in Afghanistan which killed at least 45 people in Helmand province, mostly women and children. It also took place right after Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson’s visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the dispatch of 200 more Canadian soldiers to the occupation.
The program began with an opening by MAWO Executive Committee member, Kira Koshelanyk. She opened the picket by reading the MAWO statement for the action (click to read the statement “Canada in Afghanistan: Healer or Killer?”). The statement explained to passersby why people were picketing in front of the recruitment centre and lively chanting followed. David Whittlesey spoke next. David is a long-time social justice activist who brought his experiences in the US civil rights and Vietnam anti-war movements and peace campaigns. He condemned the lies and insanity of the Canada/NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the US occupation of Iraq and called on all people in Canada to join together and fight against the war drive.
Protestors continued to march and chant outside the recruitment centre, and were joined by Aaron Mercredi, an organizer with the Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP) He emphasized that Canada is fighting a losing battle to save the public image of the occupation of Afghanistan, outlining how Canada’s appalling treatment of Indigenous people within its own borders shows Canada’s history of occupation and suppression at home.
Nita Palmer, acting co-chair of MAWO, closed the picket. She emphasized Canada’s hypocrisy in waging the occupation of Afghanistan for the ‘rights and freedoms’ for Afghan people while workers rights, social services and wages are all under attack at home. She emphasized the need to continue organizing to push forward the demand for all foreign troops out of Afghanistan. Finally, she reiterated MAWO’s demand for an Independent Public Inquiry into the government of Canada’s war drive in Afghanistan.
The brutal reality of the occupation of Afghanistan was exposed again this morning, as Canadian Forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan shot and killed four people, including a two-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister as the car they were in drove near a Canadian patrol convoy.
This horrendous murder comes as the death toll for Afghan civilians has risen rapidly in recent months. A brutal NATO attack at the end of June killed at least 45 people in Helmand province, most of whom were women and children. Saturday July 26th saw the deaths of more than 40 'so-called militants' killed by NATO forces in Ghazni province. Just yesterday, Sunday July 27th, 70 so-called 'Taliban insurgents' were killed in NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan' s Eastern Khost province, according to an AFP report. It is reported that since July 4th alone, occupation forces in Afghanistan have killed at least 250 civilians. This is not counting so-called ‘insurgents’ who have been killed by the occupation forces.
This aggression comes as Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson has just announced that 200 more Canadian troops will be dispatched to Afghanistan, increasing the force from 2500 to 2700. At the same time, NATO countries have pledged to send more troops as well. This expansion of the war drive is certain to increase the air strikes, bombings, killings and destruction of all aspects of life for people in Afghanistan. How will all this help the so-called 're-construction' of Afghanistan?
Following his recent visit to Afghanistan, David Emerson said, "Canada’s men and women are doing tremendous work in a challenging situation in Afghanistan. The dedication, ingenuity and resilience of our civilian and military team on the ground are having a positive effect, both in Kandahar and across the country. Working with the Afghan government and the international community, we are moving forward and improving the lives of ordinary citizens."
How are Canada and NATO “improving the lives of ordinary citizens” in Afghanistan by murdering young children? How are Canada and NATO “improving the lives of ordinary citizens” in Afghanistan by murdering unknown hundreds of thousands of innocent people? How can Canada and NATO improve women’s rights in Afghanistan while violence against women in the home has increased 40% since March 2007 alone? How can Canada and NATO bring “human rights” to Afghans while they are killing the very people they claim to be bringing human rights to? The thousands of tonnes of bombs dropped on Afghan homes, the thousands of bullets fired by occupation forces in Afghanistan cannot cure poverty and hunger there; they can only kill poor and hungry people. Canada and NATO are not healers in Afghanistan; they are killers.
But amidst all this suffering that Afghan people endure, they still haven’t let Canada and NATO troops take complete control of their country. Today, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) is standing side-by-side with Afghan people to demand an immediate end to this brutal and unjust war drive.
We are here representing the over 14,000 people who have already signed MAWO’s Canada Out of Afghanistan petition. We are here to demand an Independent Public Inquiry into Canada’s war drive in Afghanistan to answer the questions of why the Government of Canada began the war drive in Afghanistan, and has since extended it and poured $7 Billion taxpayer dollars into this war drive without public consultation or debate. We will join justice seeking, peace-loving people around the world to demand:
Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!