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October 23 MAWO Public Forum Report
On Thursday, October 23rd, Antiwar organizers and community activists came together at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre for a forum entitled “Afghanistan After the Federal Election: Prospects and Challenges.” Organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), the forum took place one week after the federal election in Canada, where the Conservative Party gained a minority government.
The MC of the forum, Janine Solanki, co-chair and spokesperson for MAWO, opened up the forum by explaining the importance of people coming together to discuss the issue of Canada’s ongoing military occupation of Afghanistan, as the main political parties in Canada did not want to even address this issue in the build-up to the elections. She stressed that as people living in Canada, we need to continue to put pressure on the government of Canada, no matter what party is in power, to bring Canadian troops out of Afghanistan immediately.
The first speaker was Nita Palmer. Nita is the secretary of MAWO, as well as a member of the editorial board of the Fire This Time Newspaper, where she researches and writes articles focusing on Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan. Nita covered four main points in her talk. She explained the current situation for people living under occupation in Afghanistan, outlined the position of the major parties in Canada on the occupation, discussed the impact that the election could have on the occupation, and ultimately, what the solution is for peace in Afghanistan. She concluded that for any progress to be made in Afghanistan, all occupiers need to leave the country and respect the self-determination of Afghan people.
Ali Yerevani, political editor of the Fire This Time Newspaper and organizer with the Iranian Community Against War (ICAW), spoke next. In his talk, Ali summarized the overall strategic moves that countries like Canada and the US are making with occupying Afghanistan, occupying Iraq, and ultimately setting their target on Iran to gain hegemony in the Middle East. He explained why it is important for antiwar activists and social justice fighters to understand what we call the new era of war and occupation. He noted that a lack of understanding of this era will make the working class and its organizations unable to build a movement to defend democratic and human rights at home and abroad. Ali emphasized that the most effective and powerful alternative to these wars and occupations today is to build an antiwar movement with an independent working class program. “This is not just about the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. This is not about attacking Iran or just securing the oil flow from the Persian Gulf and the Arab Sea. This is a world wide crisis, not just a Middle East crisis. This is not just about who rules the Middle East, but who rules the world. This is a fierce rivalry and competition between imperialist countries in a time of deep imperialist economic crisis. Even with the complete hegemony of the US over the Middle East, these wars and occupations over cheap resources and bigger markets will continue for decades all around the world,” he said.
Discussion was lively, with participants discussing Islamophobia, the vilification of Afghan and Middle Eastern culture. Participants talked about the hypocrisy of Canada claiming to ‘restore democracy’ in Afghanistan, when democracy doesn’t even truly exist within its own borders, and the importance of building a strong and effective antiwar movement to fight against it. The forum was a success in bringing out people to continue discussing the vital issue of Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan and will continue, along with MAWO’s other actions, until Canadian military forces leave Afghanistan to the Afghan people.