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Event Reports

January 20, 2010
Public Forum

Antiwar Activity and the Social Justice Movement:
How They are Connected and How They Can Be Effective

Organized by Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO)


January 20 MAWO Forum Report

On Wednesday January 20 over 40 people crowded into Joe’s Café in Vancouver, Canada to attend a Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) public forum. The forum was originally going to discuss the convergence of the anti-war movement and the social justice movement, but the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti changed the focus to include the crisis in Haiti.

Payvand Pejvack, an organizer with MAWO and the Iranian Community Against War, MC’d the evening and began the forum with 45 minutes of video clips on the situation in Haiti. The videos examined Canada and the US’s role in militarizing Haiti by sending upwards of 20, 000 troops combined to the tiny Caribbean island after this natural disaster.

The first speaker of the forum was Nita Palmer, the Secretary of MAWO and the author of the recently released book “War & Occupation in Afghanistan: Which Way Forward?” She explained the role Canada played in the 2004 coup d’etat in Haiti that overthrew the country’s democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Nita stated that “the UN military occupation of Haiti since the 2004 coup has completely undermined the Haitian people’s right and ability to progress. The extent of the tragedy is a result of the lack of infrastructure and well established civil institution caused by the occupation of foreign troops.”

Janine Solanki, the co-chair of MAWO, was the second speaker and discussed how the social justice movement in Canada is moving closer to the antiwar and anti occupation struggle. “The recent attacks on Muslims by restricting their democratic and human rights by the governments of Canada and the US have shown that the war abroad is looking more and more similar to the war at home,” Janine noted. “It is the extremely important for the antiwar movement to join with those fighting for people’s human rights and daily struggle here in Canada.”

The forum sparked a long discussion period after the talks as people debated and asked questions about the situation in Haiti, as well as how MAWO and the antiwar movement should respond to the current crisis of war and occupation abroad and at home. As the evening wrapped up Payvand thanked everyone for participating and encouraged everyone to attend the upcoming picket action calling for Canada Out of Afghanistan.