August 23, 2008 - Antiwar Rally
No war on Iran!
No Sanctions on Iran!
US/UK Out of Iraq!
Self-Determination for Palestine!
US/UN Hands off Africa!
Self-Determination for Indigenous Nations in Canada!
Self-Determination for all Oppressed Nations!
Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO)
& Iranian Community Against War (ICAW)
August 23 Rally Report
On Saturday August 23rd, the sidewalk and stairs on the Robson St side of Vancouver’s Art Gallery once again became a powerful display of colorful signs and banners and the host to a rally demanding an end to war and occupation. Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and the Iranian Community Against War (ICAW) organized the rally calling for “No War on Iran!” “End Sanctions on Iran!” “US/UK Out of Iraq!” “Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!” and “Self-Determination for All Oppressed Nations!”
Rally MCs and ICAW organizers Payvand Pejvack and Arash Sharifi opened the rally, welcoming people to join in from the sidewalks around the Art Gallery. David Whittlesey, a veteran of the Vietnam era antiwar movement, opened the demonstration by paralleling the US current war drive against Iran with the war drive leading up to the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. David was followed by MAWO Co-chair and spokesperson Alison Bodine. Alison is currently facing a 2-year ban from Canada enforced against her after she was politically targeted and arrested by the Canada Boarder Services Agency in September of 2007. Alison spoke to the crowd and brought messages of solidarity via telephone from the US (for more information on her case please visit: www.alisonbodine.blogspot.com )
Long-time MAWO supporter and antiwar hip hop emcee Speeches Beyond then graced the stage and energized the crowd bringing antiwar beats and rhymes to the streets of Vancouver. Ladan, an activist from the Iranian community, also took the mic and called for an end to war and occupation not just against Iran but around the world. Her speech emphasized the common humanity shared by people in all countries.
The next speaker was Mike Larson, who is an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee Vancouver and who returned from Cuba with the Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade only the day before the rally. Mike spoke about the hypocrisy of the US campaign of “war on terror” while 5 heroes remain imprisoned in the United States for defending their people against terrorism. Mike asked the crowd to raise their hand and display a five in solidarity with these 5 anti-terrorist heroes and demand “Free the Cuban 5 Now!”
MAWO executive member Kira Koshelanyk was the final speaker before the resolution of the protest. She spoke to the crowd about how after 7 years of occupation in Afghanistan and 5 years in Iraq, the problems the imperialists all promised to solve with the invasions, and used to justify the invasions, have all become worse. She emphasized that people have to learn from Afghanistan and Iraq and see the current justifications for war on Iran as a cover for the new war drive as part of this new era of war and occupation.
The rally came to an energetic close with the passing of a resolution read by MAWO organizer Gabriel McClaren. Participants in the demonstration cheered at the conclusion of the resolution calling on peace-loving people everywhere to continue the fight against Canada’s war drive and to bring an end to global war and occupation. Loud and enthusiastic chants of “No War on Iran!” “Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!” and “Self-determination Now!” rang throughout the sunny streets of Vancouver giving shoppers and passers by a lot to think about.
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ICAW & MAWO organizer Payvand Pejvack opening the rally
ICAW organizer Arash Sharifi
Vietnam era antiwar movement veteran David Whittlesey
Antiwar hip hop Emcee Speeches Beyond graced the stage and energized the crowd
Many people passing by on Robson St stopped to sign petitions and get more information
Ladan speaking at the rally
MAWO organizer Gabriel McClaren reads the rally's final resolution
MAWO Executive Committee member Kira Koshelanyk
ICAW & MAWO organizer Payvand Pejvack interviewed by independent french language filmmakers