In the past 17 years, poor, working and oppressed people in every part of the globe have faced the onslaught of U.S.-led wars and occupations. Invasions, air-raids, nuclear warheads, chemical weapons, sanctions, blockades, assassinations, covert military operations, drone warfare – these are only some of the devastating attacks of the new era of war and occupation that characterizes the world that we live in today. However, in the face of the most murderous and destructive war machine ever seen, people around the world, from Afghanistan and Palestine to Yemen and Syria, and from to Haiti and Cuba, to Korea and Venezuela, continue to fight back. At the same time, building a stronger and more united antiwar movement across borders has never been so vital as it is today.
Vancouver, Canada’s antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) formed on October 29, 2003, to organize against the U.S./U.K. occupation of Iraq. Over the past 15 years, MAWO has been a constant antiwar voice in Canada and internationally, organizing consistent and creative campaigns against U.S.-led wars and occupations around the world and calling for self-determination for all oppressed nations.
Every month for 15 years MAWO has organized an antiwar rally and petition campaign, in addition to hundreds of pickets, protests, petition drives, cultural events, music and film festivals, and participation in countless community and campus events. An important part of MAWO’s work has also been as a member of international antiwar organizations and coalitions, coordinating events especially with groups in the United States.
It is a difficult task to reflect on 15 years of antiwar organizing all in one evening, but that is what happened at MAWO’s annual MAWOWE’EN event held on November 2, 2018, at the Old Crow Coffee Co. in the heart of New Westminster, BC. MAWO Executive members Alison, Azza and Janine, hosted the event, as participants looked back at 15 years of antiwar organizing. While a dynamic program of a photo slideshow, poetry, live music, and a salsa dance lesson carried the everyone participating towards another year of educating, organizing and mobilizing against the war at home and abroad.
More actions marking 15 years of antiwar organizing with Mobilization Against War and Occupation will be organized in 2019.
U.S./U.K./France /Canada/Saudi/UAE, Hands Off Yemen
MAWO Campaign Against War on Yemen Continues
In the final two weeks of November, Mobilization Against War and Occupation organized two successful actions against the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war against Yemen. For over three years, the people of Yemen have faced a deadly bombing campaign that has killed over 56,000 people, and an air, land and sea blockade that has starved 85,000 children to death and put 17 million people at risk of starvation.
Despite this humanitarian crisis, the war on Yemen remains largely out of mainstream media coverage and the United States, Canada and the U.K. continue to sell hundreds of billions of dollars of deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia.
With the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, egregious human rights violations by Saudi Arabia were further exposed, and far too late, the U.S.-backed war on Yemen became a discussion in primetime newscasts and the U.S. Congress.
In response, the Saudi and Yemeni communities in Vancouver came to together with MAWO to organize a rally: “Violations of Human Rights by Saudi Arabia from Khashoggi to Yemen! Stop the U.S./Saudi/UAE Aggression and Killings in Yemen Now! Canada Cancel the Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia!” This rally on November 25, was an important opportunity to engage with people in Vancouver about the role that the government of Canada, which has pledged its intention to proceed with a $15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, plays in the war against Yemen.
For antiwar activists, the change in tone towards Saudi Arabia of colonial powers such as the U.S., E.U. and Canada after the assassination of Khashoggi raised important questions such as: Are they really concerned? What is really behind the rhetoric of ceasefire and stopping the war in Yemen? What is the real alternative for the people of Yemen?
These questions and more were the topic of discussion at a MAWO public forum held on November 30. This forum featured Azza Rojbi, MAWO Executive Committee member and Tunisian social justice activist, Shaker Al-Abeidi, Yemeni-Canadian social justice activist and Khalid Al-Seragi, Yemeni-Canadian community organizer, who brought the brutal war against Yemen into the important context of all U.S.-led wars and occupations throughout the Middle East and Africa.
MAWO is continuing to educate, organize and mobilize against imperialist wars and occupations. To find out about upcoming events and actions and to get involved visit www.mawovancouver.org or follow on Facebook or @mawovan on Twitter.
Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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