“War” today has more facets than ever before. War might look how we expect, and as the people of Afghanistan and Iraq know all too well - boots on the ground, night raids and detention centers, fighter jets in the skies, bombs dropped on homes and destroyed cities. In Syria, Libya and Yemen, imperialist governments, including the U.S. and Canada, have conducted war at a relative distance, causing just as much destruction without moving their troops on the ground. The war here has meant US/Canada funding and arming of foreign mercenaries or governments like Saudi Arabia to do their dirty work, or fighter jets and drones taking off from NATO airbases in nearby countries to bomb and obliterate from the skies.
Economic warfare is also being waged around the world, with U.S. sanctions impacting a third of humanity in over 40 countries. On November 11, 2022, a webinar titled “End the Illegal US Sanctions” discussed the impact of sanctions on oppressed nations, organized by ILPS (International League of Peoples’ Struggle) Commission 4. Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) supported the event, and one of the speakers was MAWO executive committee member and Fire This Time editorial board member Azza Rojbi. Azza spoke about the US-backed, Canada-armed, Saudi-led war against Yemen, and her talk is printed in this issue of Fire This Time on page 6.
Wars have also been conducted through covert and destabilization operations, which Haiti faced in 2004 when the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by a US/Canada/France orchestrated coup. In the fall of 2022, protests in Haiti demanded the resignation of the unelected, illegitimate president of Haiti and demanded no foreign intervention. Amid these protests, on October 15, 2022, Canada and the U.S. sent military aircraft to Haiti full of weapons and armoured vehicles. Canada sent another shipment of armoured vehicles in early 2023 to prop up the current government. Imperialist governments have also been discussing a new foreign occupation force in Haiti. In response, Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) organized with the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network (CWPJN) for the webinar "Human Rights, Canadian Imperialism and Haiti's Fight for Self-Determination" on December 10, 2022, International Human Rights Day. The webinar featured speakers: Jafrikayiti (Jean Saint-Vil), an author, member of Solidarity Quebec Haiti and co-founder of AKASAN (Ayisyen ki ap soutni Ayisyen nètalkole) and Jaku Konbit; Dimitri Lascaris, a Montréal-based lawyer, human rights activist and former candidate for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada; poetry by Haitian-Quebecois poet and activist Laura Doyle Péan; and moderation by Janine Solanki, a MAWO executive member. The webinar had great attendance, with insightful questions and discussion with the speakers and participants.
While the government of Canada has been shipping weapons abroad to Haiti, fueling the war in Ukraine with military equipment, and dealing arms to the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, Canada is also bolstering its arsenal. Despite years of opposition, in late 2022, reports surfaced that the government of Canada planned to sign a $7 billion deal for 16 F-35 stealth fighter jets with American weapons giant Lockheed Martin, which was later confirmed on January 9, 2023. In response, the No Fighter Jets Coalition called for a weekend of action across Canada before the official announcement. In Vancouver, Mobilization Against War & Occupation held an action in front of NDP leader and MP Jagmeet Singh’s office on January 6. Protesters filled the sidewalk and demanded that the F-35 deal be scrapped and that Canada not purchase new fighter jets, which will only be used for more brutal wars. The protest called attention to the cost of the planned deal for 88 fighter jets, which will be $77 billion over the 30-year lifetime of the fighter jets. The money should be spent on much needed funding for healthcare, education, jobs and climate solutions, instead will be spent on degrading the environment and killing innocent people around the world. Protesters delivered a letter to MP Jagmeet Singh’s office, asking for the NDP to reverse its current position in support of new fighter jets, and stand against the purchase. The action also received mainstream news coverage by City TV, which aired on the evening news and online. The action encouraged passers-by to sign a parliamentary petition, which can be found online at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4217
Mobilization Against War & Occupation continues to organize, educate and mobilize against imperialist wars, occupations, sanctions and military actions in the Vancouver area and with groups across Canada and internationally. To find out about upcoming events or activities, visit www.mawovancouver.org
Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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