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January 25 MAWO Picket Action Report
Vancouver activists picket the US Consulate demanding:
STOP FBI RAIDS ON ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS!
STOP THE REPRESSION OF ANTI-WAR AND
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS!
END THE GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS
AGAINST ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS!
IMMEDIATELY RETURN ALL CONFISCATED MATERIALS!
For the third time since the FBI increased their raids on antiwar and social justice activists in the US, Vancouver's Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) organized a picket in front of the US Consulate. Activists came together to stand in solidarity with those in the US who have been the targets of FBI attacks that began in late September of 2010.
The Jan. 25th action was part of an International Day of Action that also included protests in Dublin, Ireland and Kiev, Ukraine, as well as 47 cities in the United States. Around the world, thousands of people united together under the same demands, in a clear call for Hands Off! - to the US government and FBI. This day was significant because it is the day that 9 antiwar and social justice activists were supposed to appear in front of a Federal Grand Jury. Federal Grand Jury's are used in order to get information out of activists regarding their work for peace and justice, in this case, under the guise of investigating “material support for terrorism.”
In between loud and lively chants and energetic picketing the action included a number of speakers. The first was a message of support and solidarity from Sara Flounders of the International Action Center (IAC), who is also a leading organizer of solidarity actions in the United States. Next, Veronika Tonkovidova, Coordinator of the Free the Cuban Five Society – Capilano University, educated everyone about other attacks by the US government on people working for justice, the Cuban Five. The Cuban Five are anti-terrorist fighters that have been imprisoned in US jails for over 13 years.
The final speaker was Alison Bodine. Alison has just returned to Canada after being politically targeted by the Canada Border Services Agency in 2007. This targeting resulted in Alison being banned from Canada for two years, but today she was able to participate in the picket, talking about the importance of unity against further attacks as well as the fact that attacks by the FBI are also constantly directed towards people from the Muslim community and other oppressed communities in the US.
The FBI first raided the homes and offices of antiwar and social justice activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, seizing everything from children's books to computer hard-drives. They also delivered Federal Grand Jury subpoenas to 14 people. So far all activists subpoenaed have refused to testify in front of the Grand Jury.
The targeted activists are people from many different organizations including, the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
We must continue to stand against these undemocratic and suppressive attacks meant to intimidate antiwar and social justice fighters in the US, and also people standing for justice against war and occupation all over the world!