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May 23 Antiwar Rally Report:
“Canada/US/NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!”
“US Out of Iraq!”
“US Hands off Pakistan!”
“Self Determination for Tamils Now!
“End the Occupations Now!”
The energy and spirit of resistance to war and occupation was felt from the many peace-loving people who held their picket signs high at the monthly antiwar rally organized by Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) and the Iranian Community Against War (ICAW) on Saturday May 23rd 2009 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The rally began as MAWO co-chair Janine Solanki and MAWO Executive Committee member Kerri Goodwin welcomed everyone to the protest rally. Emphasizing the importance of resisting the war here at home as well as abroad, the first speaker invited up was Kelly White, an Indigenous elder and activist. Kelly welcomed this rally to the unceded Coast Salish territory it took place on, and got everyone energized with her rallying chant of “MAWO for Peace!”
MAWO co-chair Alison Bodine’s words of solidarity and struggle for a better word could not be conveyed in person, but instead though telephone from New York. This is due to a two year ban from Canada imposed on her by the Canada Border Services Agency and the government of Canada, who politically targeted her at the Canada/US border in September 2007. To learn more about Alison’s case please visit: www.alisonbodine.blogspot.com
Next Sarah Alwell, the coordinator of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver was invited up to speak about the case of the Cuban 5. She outlined the case of these 5 men, who are political prisoners unjustly held in US jails for over 10 years. Their case clearly shows the hypocrisy of the so-called US war on terror, as these anti-terrorist fighters investigated anti-Cuban terrorists operating in the US, yet were imprisoned while the real terrorists still walk free in the US. For more information on the case of the 5 Cuban Heroes please visit: www.vancubasolidarity.com/freethefivevan.html
Andrew Barry, MAWO Executive Committee member, spoke next on the new era of war and occupation that is devastating humanity. Andrew reflected the struggle of oppressed people world wide, from the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Haiti, to the extension of war to Pakistan and threat of attack on Iran, to the fight for self determination of the Tamil, Indigenous, and all oppressed nations.
The next and last part of the program was the rally resolution, which was delivered by Meaghan Griffith, MAWO organizer and a high school student. The resolution outlined the reasons that this rally was held, and affirmed the commitment of MAWO and ICAW to keep educating, organizing and mobilizing against war and occupation. This resolution was supported and passed with the loud and energetic cheers from the crowd.
Preceding and following the rally program, antiwar activists petitioned the hundreds of people walking by the Vancouver Art Gallery, adding over 320 signatures to MAWO’s “Canada Out of Afghanistan” petition. This petition has over 14,000 signatures from the Lower Mainland alone, and is steadily climbing as more and more people put their protest signature to the demand of “Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!”