Yemen today is facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. For two and a half years the U.S.-backed Saudi-led war has devastated Yemen, destroying infrastructure and indiscriminately targeting civilians in their homes, in hospitals and even at funerals. Saudi Arabia has also imposed a land, air and sea blockade, preventing essential aid, food and medicine from reaching the Yemeni people. Now, as a symptom of this criminal war, Yemen is facing the worst cholera outbreak the world has ever seen and facing a famine that threatens to become the worst seen in decades. Yemen’s children are particularly vulnerable. As described in the article “Yemen’s Children Under Attack!” by Azza Rojbi in Fire This Time Volume 11 Issue 9, the “war on Yemen is stripping Yemeni children of their childhood and destroying the hopes and future of a whole generation.”
In Vancouver, Canada, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) has kept up the demands against this brutal war on Yemen, both in educational events and out on the streets. In November, MAWO held two events against war on Yemen, alongside Yemeni activists and community members.
On Friday November 17, MAWO organized an antiwar poetry night dedicated to the people of Yemen. The evening gave participants a deeper insight into the beauty, history and culture of Yemen, the horror of war that Yemen is facing, and the struggle of the Yemeni people against the vicious attacks on their country. The event started with a welcoming song and drumming from Indigenous elder and activist Eagle Eyes. The evening was MC’d by Alison Bodine, chair of MAWO, who spoke about the extent of the crisis in Yemen and the work of MAWO against the Saudi war on Yemen. MAWO executive committee member Janine Solanki also spoke to recognize the recent anniversary of MAWO, which formed 14 years ago on October 29, 2003, and talked about the campaigns which have been fought throughout MAWO’s history. Yemeni community member Asaad Aljaboubi, who had recently visited Yemen, gave his account of the situation of Yemen and how deep the crisis is.
The poetry section of the evening featured readings by Thomas Davies and Janine Solanki from well-known poets, as well as original poetry from Jodie Ortega and Max Tennant. Much of the poetry reflected the spirit of fighting for justice and for life, and in honor of the struggle of the Yemeni people. The evening wrapped up with participants enjoying delicious Yemeni food, sweets and tea, prepared by activists and organizers from the Yemeni community.
The next day, Saturday November 18, MAWO held its monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Downtown Vancouver. An information table was hung with Yemeni flags and banners demanding “U.S./Saudi Arabia Hands off Yemen!” and protesters held picket signs with the slogans “Self-Determination for the People of Yemen!” and “Stop Bombing Yemen!” Activists approached passers-by and asked them to add their signature to a petition demanding that Canada end its $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia for so-called “light” armored vehicles. Many people were eager to sign on to the petition and show their opposition to the government of Canada’s role in providing arms to Saudi Arabia, especially considering the brutal war Saudi Arabia has been waging on Yemen. The rally wrapped up with Alison Bodine speaking about the human costs of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, and calling particular attention to the support that the governments of both the U.S. and Canada are providing to Saudi Arabia. To close the rally, Indigenous elder and activist Eagle Eyes sang and drummed a closing song, reminding activists that the rally is taking place on the traditional and unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ), the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) Coast Salish Nations.
Mobilization Against War and Occupation is committed to continue organizing against the Saudi-led war on Yemen, and demanding that the governments of the U.S. and Canada end their support of Saudi Arabia and the war on Yemen. To find out about MAWO events and actions visit www.mawovancouver.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter @mawovan
Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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