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      Fighting Against War, Fighting for Peace!

      By Janine Solanki

      Around the world, oppressed nations are subjected to destructive imperialist wars, occupations, sanctions, military interventions and imperialist backed coups. Although the United States may have the most powerful (and most destructive) military in the world, the scope of all of this warmongering is beyond any one government or military. In the drive to control global markets and plunder resources, a coordinated network of imperialist countries and their vast military resources are required, and that is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This military alliance's history clearly shows that it only serves imperialist countries. Afghanistan became NATO's most extended military mission, where with the U.S., NATO was in charge for much of the 20-year occupation, and NATO as the U.S. arm also had boots on the ground in the war on Iraq. Today NATO is responsible for the current war in Ukraine, after years of provocations at Russia's borders and now as NATO members funnel hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine. Let us not forget the last NATO war in Europe, where NATO destroyed Yugoslavia, an independent and sovereign country by dropping 14,000 bombs, including depleted uranium bombs and cluster munitions.

      While imperialist forces coordinate their attacks on oppressed nations, peace-loving people and antiwar organizations also need to coordinate the antiwar movement to effectively resist imperialist wars, occupations, and interventions. In 2020, the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network formed with 45 peace groups across Canada and have since worked together on days of actions and campaigns, including to demand that Canada stop arming Saudi Arabia, to oppose the US-backed Saudi-led war on Yemen, and protest NATO and demand Canada leave NATO.

      International Day of Peace

      September 21 marked the United Nations International Day of Peace. To mark this day Vancouver-area members of the Peace and Justice Network and supporters came together to hold a Rally for Just Peace. The action reached out beyond Vancouver and was held outside the Burnaby Public Library, organized by Just Peace Committee, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, International League of People's Struggles (ILPS), Global Alliance for Peace - Surrey Society, Vancouver Peace Poppies, World Beyond War, Socialist Action, and Vancouver Peace Council. During the action, protesters handed out antiwar literature to passersby, and organizers spoke from the microphone, including Azza Rojbi on behalf of Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, Janine Solanki from Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO), Barbara Waldern from the Just Peace Committee and Niovi Patsicakis from Global Peace Alliance BC.

      Also marking International Peace Day, on October 1, the Global Peace Alliance (GPA) BC Society held their annual festival with the theme “End Racism, Build Peace” in Surrey. This family-friendly event included speakers, music, dance and a peace-themed art exhibit. The festival also had tables from social justice organizations, and Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO), an endorser of the festival, also had a table at the event and spoke to festival goers about antiwar issues throughout the day.

      #FundPeaceNotWar Week of Action

      From October 15-23, the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network joined the call to action issued by the U.S.-based United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). Actions, including rallies, pickets, community events and teach-ins, were held in Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ottawa, Hamilton, Calgary, Waterloo and South Georgian Bay, alongside actions across the United States and worldwide.

      Again Vancouver-area organizers took the action to a less common protest location, to the downtown of the neighbouring city New Westminster. This action was organized by Just Peace Committee, Mobilization Against War and Occupation, Global Peace Alliance - BC, Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, World Beyond War, and ILPS in BC. The rally caught the interest of many walking by, who stopped to take information and sign antiwar petitions. Alongside speakers from all organizations, two passersby who stopped to join the rally were also motivated to speak from the microphone. These new supporters included a man from former Yugoslavia who spoke about how NATO destroyed his homeland and the necessity of working together against NATO wars. The rally was also joined by an Indigenous man who spoke about the horrors of war and the war at home against Indigenous Nations.

      In response to the recent imperialist actions against Haiti, protesters held picket signs demanding “No New Occupation of Haiti” and “Canada/US/UN Out of Haiti” and handed out a new MAWO statement in support of Haiti. (see page 17 to read statement). Protesters also handed out the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network statement for the #FundPeaceNotWar days of action, which was well received by those passing by. (see page 28 to read statement).

      In Greater Vancouver and across Canada, activists and organizations are coming together to educate, organize and mobilize against this new era of war and occupation. To keep updated on Vancouver area events, visit www.mawovancouver.org and for actions across Canada visit https://peaceandjusticenetwork.ca/.

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @JanineSolanki

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