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      From 2015 to 2016, Mobilization Against War and Occupation Continues to Educate, Organize and Mobilize Against the New Era of War and Occupation

      By Janine Solanki

      As we close 2015 and enter 2016, we look back on the past year of new and increasing wars, occupations and imperialist interventions, humanitarian crises and rising attacks on civil and democratic rights at home, as well as the fight back and huge resistance of poor and working people worldwide. 2015 saw the new war on Iraq and Syria, with the excuse of fighting Daesh (also known as ISIS), become the central campaign of the war machine led by the US with the help of their allies, including Canada. We also saw a new war launched against Yemen in March of 2015, led by US-backed Saudi Arabia. The war has created immense destruction and a humanitarian catastrophe that has left four out of five Yemenis in need of aid. Despite that this war has been labeled the “forgotten war” it is by no means over and the Yemeni people continue to suffer brutal attacks by the Saudi-led coalition. Throughout 2015 we saw the continued Israeli attacks on Palestinian people, but also saw a huge grassroots resistance of Palestinian people fighting for Palestinian self-determination, in what has been called a third Intifada. (For more on the Palestinian struggle see the article on page 34).

      2015 has been the year in which the consequences of over 14 years of the new era of war and occupation hit home for people in Europe and North America, as well as around the world as huge numbers of refugees escaping their war-torn homelands reached European shores. (To read more about the refugee crisis see page 22). In response to the refugee crisis we have seen the huge effort of regular people, who have pressured their governments to both stop the wars causing the crisis and to accept refugees into their countries. Regardless of the positions of various governments, people throughout Europe and North America have taken it upon themselves to ease the crisis that arriving refugees face in any way they can. However in the face of such humanity, right-wing and Islamophobic attacks have been on the rise. Imperialist politicians have been feeding the Islamophabic fear campaign and have used events like the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015 to ramp up the backlash against refugees and Muslims. Here in Canada Islamophobia and a crackdown on civil liberties and democratic rights has come in the form of Bill C-51, the so-called Anti-Terrorism law that was enacted in June 2015 despite widespread opposition from individuals and institutions across Canada. (To read more about Bill C-51 see page ?) While many people in Canada have celebrated the end of nine years under Stephan Harper's conservative government, the new Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no plans to repeal Bill C-51 and has only suggested some superficial amendments.

      The last month of 2015 gave a snapshot of MAWO's consistent and ongoing antiwar events and actions. On Tuesday December 8th MAWO organized a public forum titled “The Election of the Liberal Government and the Prospect of Building the Antiwar Movement in Canada: Will PM Justin Trudeau End Canada's Military Missions Abroad?” The forum looked back at the track record of the Liberal Party of Canada up to the current political positions of the new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Following video clips, MAWO Chair Alison Bodine gave an overview of Canada's recent war-making history, before opening up for discussion. Throughout the course of the forum, the central message was that whether it be war and occupation, Bill C-51, environmental issues or social issues at home, peace-loving people can't hold out hope for the new Prime Minister. Our campaigns and demands must be louder than ever and we can't release an ounce of pressure in the fight against war and occupation.

      On Saturday December 19th MAWO took to the streets for a monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign, asking passerby's to sign MAWO's petition against Canada's war in Iraq and Syria. Also at this rally, MAWO had a table dedicated to the Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who is serving out a 35 year prison sentence in the US. Chelsea Manning's “crime” was to tell the truth about US war crimes, a heroic act that makes her a soldier of humanity. On December 17th she spent her 28th birthday behind bars, and on that day supporters in Vancouver held banners, picket signs and a “Happy Birthday” sign for Chelsea Manning in front of the US Consulate in Downtown Vancouver for a photo which was tweeted around the world (including by Chelsea herself). At the December 19th rally activists and passerby's added their name and messages of solidarity to a birthday card to be mailed to Chelsea Manning, which was part of international actions in support of Chelsea Manning on her birthday.

      Throughout 2015 Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) has continued organizing antiwar campaigns and responded to the maneuverings of imperialist forces. In 2015 we formed close relationships with the Iraqi, Yemeni and Muslim communities and joined together to organize events and actions against the imperialist attacks on their home countries. We have raised our banners against Bill C-51, in solidarity with Palestine, to open the doors to refugees and against environmental degradation. We have picketed, marched, petitioned, discussed and debated. As we enter 2016, it is with a resolve to continue educating, organizing and mobilizing and to raise our voices louder in demanding an end to the new era of war and occupation!

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