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U.S. Hands Off North Korea!
Report on United Actions Against
Imperialist “Vancouver Group” Meeting
January 15-16, 2018

north korea forum participants

Video from the events

Photos from the events

In organizing the “Vancouver Group” summit on North Korea, the United States and Canada tried to dig up old Cold War nuclear fears and alliances to justify their aggression on the Korean Peninsula. Leading peace organizers from around the world also met in Vancouver at the same time - to forge their own alliances and demonstrate that there is a clear alternative that does not involve sanctions, threats or military aggression. Vancouver's anti-war coalition, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) was heavily involved in these political activities – organizing its own “Hands Off North Korea!” public forum with retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright and Professor Michel Chossudovsky, and participating in all the "Vancouver Women's Forum on Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula" actions, which brought 16 leading women peace organizers from around the world to Vancouver.

While the U.S. and Canada gave some small amount of lip service to “diplomatic solutions", the fact that North Korea, China and Russia were all excluded from the meeting – which was made up principally of countries who waged a bloody war against Korea over 60 years ago – showed that the meeting agenda had nothing to do with peaceful dialogue. Their stated objective was even to, “advance the pressure campaign against North Korea.”

MAWO chairperson Alison Bodine told press, “This meeting been called in an attempt to isolate and demonize North Korea through a publicity campaign which is heavy on threats and rhetoric but thin on facts.”

The Women's Forum, which was organized by Women Cross DMZ, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Nobel Women’s Initiative, included a march and vigil outside the Vancouver Convention Centre on the night before the "Vancouver Group" meetings, as well as an early morning action outside the entrance so all the entering diplomats could see the unified demand for peace. MAWO was present with a delegation and large banner which said, “U.S./Canada: Hands Off North Korea!” at both actions.

MAWO also joined a noontime picket outside the Vancouver Public Library calling for "US Hands Off Korea!", and later the Women's Forum conference which had three dynamic panels giving an in-depth look at the history of imperialist intervention against Korea and possibilities for peace and reunification.

The audience at MAWO's public forum at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library was over 100 people, which filled the room beyond capacity. Many still stood outside to listen to the speakers, and the lively and informative discussion that followed.

Ann Wright, who is a founder of Code Pink Women for Peace and a member of the international women's peace delegation, emphasized the need to continue taking principled and organized stands against war. She herself resigned from the U.S. Army in protest of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and since then has continued to be a leading anti-war organizer around the world.

Peter Wilson brought greetings to from the New Zealand DPRK Society. He had travelled all the way from New Zealand specifically to participate in the anti-war actions related to the "Vancouver Group" meeting.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky founder and editor of Global Research, and author of 11 books on global politics and economy, was speaking as part of a cross country tour which saw him present at successful events in Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto and Winnipeg. He analyzed the roots of imperialist intervention in Korea, which divided the country in two. Besides the current threats and sanctions against North Korea, the U.S has a continued presence of almost 30,000 troops in South Korea. He called for the expansion of independent anti-war organizing and journalism, and for an end to imperialist aggression in Korea and around the world.

The imperialist “Vancouver Group” came to a very different conclusion during their closed-door meetings. Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the Canadian government will contribute $3.25 million to a U.S. sanctions enforcement program which targets the most vulnerable sectors of North Korean society, and U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson vowed that, “the pressure campaign will continue.”

This outcome had clearly been decided upon before the meeting even began. While the “Vancouver Group” meeting was a step away from peace, it also provided peace activists and opportunity to add the anti-war narrative to the media agenda. MAWO chairperson Alison Bodine, and members of the Women’s Forum, were interviewed by many local, national and international media outlets. Links from some of the coverage are found below.

This past week's meetings in Vancouver showed two very different visions for the world. One, which is pushed by imperialist countries like the U.S. and Canada, is defined by military might, misery and aggression. The other, which was demonstrated by the flurry of peace activities organized by groups and individuals form around the world – points the way to better world based on solidarity, cooperation and an end to imperialist wars and occupation. MAWO is committed to playing an active role in this international movement for peace, and will continue to educate, organize and mobilize to demand, “US Hands Off Korea!” and “No More Sanctions or Threats Against North Korea!”

Monday, January 15 CTV

Tuesday, January 16 – MAWO Chairperson Alison Bodine interview on Loud & Clear –
Sputnik Radio (29:10 – 59:00)

Tuesday, January 16 – Vancouver Courier article

Tuesday, January 16 – National Observer video