Mainstream news today has two distinct methods to manipulate public opinion, especially on matters of war and occupation which are far away from the first hand experience of the general public. The first is the sophisticated and well-practiced method of deception. Misinformation and manipulated, misconstrued facts are hammered down in constant, leading reports, thick with heart-wrenching images and narratives to pull at our heartstrings. We are taught to view issues with a narrow view and no sense of a bigger picture or background, instead of being critical and fully informed. The conclusions of Western media dictate what is going on without an objective view of the situation, but a view that is in the interests of the imperialist ruling class and their corporations. The second method is much more simple – ignore it. There are major, worldwide events right now which are impacting humanity is so many ways, yet the mainstream media is outright ignoring them. While atrocities are being committed, instead of doing their duty to report on them, mainstream media is tossing these issues into the wastebasket not because they are not newsworthy, but because telling these stories goes against the interests of those profiting off the imperialist war drive.
As an antiwar coalition, the job of Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) is to combat the misinformation and deceptions, in the interests of oppressed people fighting back against this new era of war and occupation. This last September, MAWO was on the streets and in discussions and debates, armed with facts, information and the truth.
US/Saudi Arabia Hands Off Yemen!
On Saturday September 24, MAWO held a monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver. Banners reading “US/Saudi Arabia Hands Off Yemen!” and picket signs held by activists demanded “Stop Bombing Yemen!” brought attention to a war which is purposefully ignored by mainstream news. For the last year and a half, a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen almost daily, indiscriminately destroying civilian areas, vital infrastructure and even world heritage sites that were once gems of human history and civilization. Alongside constant airstrikes, Yemen, which is already one of the poorest countries in the region, has been subjected to an air, land and sea blockade which prevents aid, food, medicine and fuel from entering Yemen and has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, according to the United Nations. The destruction caused by the Saudi bombings, as well as the heroic opposition of Yemeni people who have rallied and protested in massive numbers, were on display in a photo exhibit at the Vancouver demonstration. Many people stopped to see the images which are not reflected in our newspapers or on our TV screens, and to find out more about this “forgotten war”.
Not only does the media turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia, but also turns a blind eye to the support for Saudi Arabia by imperialist governments like the US and Canada. The US is quietly providing weapons, surveillance and intelligence support for Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen, and continues to launch deadly drone strikes in Yemen. Canada has a $15 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to sell so-called “light” armoured vehicles, making Canada the second largest arms dealer to Saudi Arabia, after the US. Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia was a main focus for MAWO's petitioning, with many people coming up to the information table or talking to teams of activists who were collecting signatures demanding that Canada stop it's arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
US Hands Off Syria!
On September 27th, MAWO organized a public forum and discussion titled “U.S. Hands Off Syria”. In comparison to the war on Yemen, Syria is on the news daily, and US President Obama and other officials of imperialist countries are constantly making statements on the situation in Syria. A good first question to ask is, why do Western government officials and the mainstream media care about Syria, but not Yemen? A good second question is, what point are they making about what is happening in Syria? To approach these questions, the forum presented alternative media video clips to give more background and facts on the situation in Syria. The first speaker was Ken Stone via video conferencing from Hamilton, Ontario. Ken Stone traveled to Syria in early 2016 as part of a solidarity tour, is an executive member of the Syria Solidarity Movement and the treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War. A transcript of Ken Stone's talk is available to read on page 14 this issue of Fire This Time. The second speaker was Nita Palmer, author of “War & Occupation in Afghanistan: Which Way Forward” and Editorial Board member of Fire This Time Newspaper. Nita Palmer's talk can be found on page 10. Following the speeches, participants engaged in a lively discussion on the war on Syria.
We need to come together to fight for lasting peace and fight lies with truth, deceptions with information, and organize, educate and mobilize to end decisively and effectively this new era of war and occupation.
Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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