October 4-5 MAWO Picket and Forum Report
Vancouver Oppose FBI Raids on Anti-War Committee and Social Justice Activists!
On Friday September 24th, the FBI raided eight homes and offices of antiwar and social justice activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, members of the Anti-War Committee (http://www.antiwarcommittee.org/) in the US. The FBI agents seized books, music CD’s, photographs, computers, cell phones, check books, papers, cameras and every other items that could contain information and saved data.
In response to an emergency call to action from groups in Chicago and Minneapolis, thousands of people rallied on a few days notice in over 30 cities across the United States, many in front of Federal and FBI buildings.
Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) joined this call to action here in Vancouver, Canada in three different ways. The first was the release of a public statement condemning the attacks, which was also followed by two important back to back events. The first was a picket in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver, and the second was a free public forum. Both events carried the same main theme: “Condemn the FBI Raids Against Antiwar & Social Justice Activists!”
On Monday, October 4th Vancouver activists gathered in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver with bright signs demanding, “FBI: Hands Off Anti-War and Social Justice Activists!” and “Condemn the Raids!”
Speakers included Sara Flounders of the International Action Centre in New York via teleconference, as well as Thomas Davies of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver. Both speakers emphasized that the attacks on these activists by the FBI could not be treated as simply local events, but that progressive movements around the world must stand united to defend any democratic and civil rights won in past struggles.
The picketers handed out leaflets on the busy downtown street and marched with loud chants to make it clear that the attacks on social justice activists in the U.S. had not gone unnoticed by their brothers and sisters living in Canada.
The following evening community members gathered for a free public forum which included a video presentation on the FBI Raids, as well as a discussion on their importance to poor and working people around the world. The evenings featured speaker was Ali Yerevani, political editor of the Fire This Time Newspaper and member of Iranian Communities Against War (ICAW).
MAWO co-chair Andrew Barry opened the evening and introduced the other MAWO co-chair Alison Bodine, who was speaking via skype from New York City. Alison emphasized how these raids are an attack on an activists’ human and democratic right to protest and to organize against war and occupation. She also connected these raids with her own case where the government of Canada politically targeted and banned her from Canada for 2 years.
Ali then outlined the context of the New Era of War and Occupation, which since September 11th, 2001, has resulted in a huge wave of direct military attacks on oppressed people around the world, but has also been used by imperialist governments such as Canada and the United States to attack democratic and civil rights here at home as well. These attacks have been seen most clearly against the Muslim and progressive communities. He emphasized that the raids were not just an attack on one organization but more importantly are an attack on the entire working, poor and oppressed people not only in the U.S. but the whole antiwar movement around the world. If we do not respond strongly, the attacks will only become worse.
The discussion which followed also emphasized that the campaign against the FBI raids is something which MAWO must continue to follow and be prepared to mobilize, as part of an international anti-war movement which defends the rights of all oppressed people at home and abroad.
Condemn the FBI Raids Against Antiwar & Social Justice Activists!
FBI Hands Off Anti-War and Social Justice Activists Now!
Hands Off Anti-War Committee!