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August 28, 2008 - Picket Action
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August 28th MAWO Picket:
In the afternoon rain of Thursday, August 28th, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) organizers and supporters broke the mundane routine of downtown Vancouver as they rallied outside the Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Centre for the 45th time since 2005 to demand “Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan!” Amidst an array of colorful signs and loud voices, the picket was opened by MAWO executive member Kira Koshelanyk, who read a statement from MAWO condemning the latest Canada/NATO led attacks that claimed the lives of 120 Afghan civilians. The statement vowed to continue to demand “Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!” and was received by loud and energetic chanting.
Next to speak was long time activist and veteran of the anti-Vietnam war movement David Whittlesey, who shared his experience with participants. Kerry Goodwin, an Oji-Cree activist and organizer with MAWO connected Canada’s war abroad in Afghanistan to Canada’s war here at home with the continued occupation of Indigenous land for over 500 years. Kerri also spoke about the funding cuts to social programs and the constant increase in the cost of education which have come at the same time as the government of Canada is increasing funding for their war in Afghanistan.
Participants continued to picket outside the Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Centre with loud chants of “Money for health care and education, not for war and occupation!” and “Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!” Loud honks of support from drivers passing by filled the air. As the picket came to a close, Kira Koshelanyk took to the megaphone and emphasized that occupation is not and can never be a form of liberation and encouraged everyone to continue in the fight for the right of self-determination for the people of Afghanistan, and for the immediate withdrawal of troops from that country. Be sure to check the MAWO website for information on MAWO’s next monthly picket action for Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan!
The brutal reality of the occupation of Afghanistan was exposed again in the last week with skyrocketing Afghan civilian death tolls in multiple NATO airstrikes. The worst reported attack took the lives of at least 90 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, exactly one week ago, Thursday August 21, in Herat province. Dozens more were killed in the days before and after that. Just two days ago, another 30 so-called ‘Taliban’ were killed in fighting with the occupation forces.
The last week also resulted in the deaths of the 3 Canadian soldiers in the occupation of Afghanistan with over a dozen other NATO troop deaths. Together with the two Canadian soldiers killed 2 weeks ago in the Panjwai district of Afghanistan, this has been the deadliest month of 2008 for Canadian Forces, bringing Canada’s total troop deaths in Afghanistan to 93.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson announced in July that 200 more Canadian troops will be dispatched to Afghanistan, increasing the force from 2500 to 2700. At the same time, NATO countries pledged to send more troops. During a two-day visit to Kandahar earlier this week, Defence Minister Peter MacKay also stated: "The more the better," "We're going to continue our efforts to pursue other NATO allies to make troop contributions."
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?
After a 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! Independent Public Inquiry Now!