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    MAWO Activities Set an Example for the Antiwar Movement

    By Janine Solanki

    Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) is an antiwar coalition in Vancouver, BC, Canada, made up of dozens of organizations and individuals united against imperialist war and occupation. Since the September 11th New York World Trade Center attacks in 2001, our world entered a new era of war and occupation – first with the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan that is still continuing, followed by the war and occupation of Iraq, the opening of new fronts of intervention throughout Africa, escalating threats on Iran, the increasing suppression of Palestinians, coups and covert operations throughout Latin America, and most recently the tragic intervention in Libya and now the current target of imperialism, Syria.

    Through MAWO’s consistent events and actions, including conferences and forums, pickets, rallies and marches, petition drives, cultural nights, and festivals, MAWO provides an avenue for public education, organization and mobilization against war and occupation. These efforts extend beyond Vancouver, with MAWO participation in antiwar and social justice activities throughout BC as well as internationally and especially in the U.S., with a purpose of building a united, international and effective antiwar movement that goes beyond borders.

    The Fire This Time newspaper tries to reflect in each issue the work of MAWO to share not only the events MAWO is organizing, but more importantly how MAWO is organizing and on what campaigns, as an example for other antiwar and social justice activists to assess for further building an united front against imperialist war and occupation.

    Hands off Iran and Syria!

    In the last year, the demand of Hands Off Iran and Syria became a critical point for the antiwar movement to act on. The mass movements and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa both were a setback for U.S. imperialism as their puppet regimes were disposed of, as well as an opportunity for the U.S. to intervene in the independent countries which stand in the way of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East. This began with Libya, and the result of a NATO intervention that demolished the country and threw it into chaos. Now Syria and Iran are facing the same build up of sanctions and preparation and threat of military intervention. MAWO’s “Hands Off Syria and Iran” campaign have included rally and petition campaigns with the main focus of “Hands Off Iran and Syria.” These actions take place monthly, and are a tool for both public outreach and protest. The Saturday May 26 rally setup in the busy downtown Robson street in front of the Vancouver Public Library, engaging many people in discussion and collecting over 150 petition signatures. MAWO also organizes public forums to give organizers and the public an opportunity to discuss, debate and educate themselves on this and other issues, which is expanded on further in this article.

    Self-Determination for Palestine!

    MAWO supports the demand of self-determination for Palestine, and supports the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people who have been struggling for their land, rights and dignity for over 64 years. On May 29th MAWO organized a public forum, marking the 64th anniversary of “Al-Nakba,” known in English as “The Catastrophe” which saw the formation of Israel through violent theft of Palestinian land, brutal massacres and the forced expulsion of Palestinians. This forum gave a historical overview on Palestine as well as more recent news through video and news clips, followed by the speaker, Noah Fine, a young anti-zionist Jewish activist, who is active in the social justice movement and student union activism, and is the coordinator of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee Vancouver. MAWO’s forum always leave space for discussion and debate, and in this forum the discussion centered on the role that antiwar organizers and activists in Canada have in defending the right of Palestine to self-determination.

    Free Bradley Manning Now!

    Bradley Manning is the accused Wikileaks whistleblower, a 24-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst who has been in prison in the U.S. for two years without trial. He is accused of leaking the “collateral murder” video footage showing the killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a U.S. Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also charged with sharing documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and U.S. diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks. Since April 2012 MAWO has taken up the campaign with the “Free Bradley Manning Campaign Vancouver Canada”, and regularly organizes petition drives, forums and picket actions to demand his freedom. This organizing effort is in coordination with the Bradley Manning Support Network in the U.S., and MAWO has responded to their call for international actions during several of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing dates. MAWO’s most recent action was the June 7th picket action at the U.S. Consulate, during a set of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearings. Many MAWO supporters and activists came out for the protest, as well as a number of people who joined a MAWO action for the first time, eager to defend Bradley Manning and demand justice and freedom for this “Soldier of Humanity.”

    Saudi and All Foreign Troops Out of Bahrain!

    Over a year and a half since the beginning of the mass movements and uprisings swept the Middle East and North Africa, how much is known about the continuing struggle of the people of Bahrain? Syria, a country whose government U.S. imperialism aims to topple, is headline news, but Bahrain, with a government who works in step with the U.S. government, and a country that hosts the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, is pointedly left out of mainstream news. On June 12 MAWO organized the public forum titled “Still on the Streets: Bahrain’s Mass Movement on the Move” to discuss the ongoing mass movement in Bahrain, and the hypocrisy of the U.S. government that condemns and threatens the government of Syria, but praises and aids the government of Bahrain as they are repressing protesters. The forum speaker was Nita Palmer, author of the book “War and Occupation in Afghanistan: Which Way Forward” published by Battle of Ideas Press, as well as an editorial board member of the Fire This Time Newspaper, who wrote on Bahrain in Volume 7 Issue 3 of FTT. Participants had many questions, and appreciation was voiced to the fact that this forum provided critical information on Bahrain that is very difficult to access elsewhere. MAWO continues to have the demand “Saudi and all foreign troops out of Bahrain” a part of the ongoing demands at our rally and petition campaign, as one of the U.S. governments allies, Saudi Arabia, still has troops in Bahrain, which were sent their to repress and contain the protests.

    International action for international strength and unity!

    In MAWO we emphasis how important international coordination and cooperation is in building a united and effective antiwar movement. Imperialist governments know they are stronger working together against us– and antiwar organizations, who have common demands and struggles, also must work together against imperialist war and occupation. Most recently, MAWO participated in an International Period of Action with the central demand of “Hands Off Syria and Iran” which was initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition in the U.S. between June 23rd and July 1st. On July 23 MAWO organized a rally and petition campaign as part of this period of action, and collected signatures on MAWO’s petitions against the government of Canada’s sanctions and threats against both Iran and Syria. A few days later MAWO also organized a public forum on June 26th, titled “In the Crosshairs: What are Imperialists Planning for Iran and Syria?” The forum included news clips and both MAWO co-chairs Alison Bodine and Janine Solanki spoke on the build up for an attack on Iran and Syria, which was followed by a discussion that ranged from the facts of this war drive, to what we as antiwar activists should do to counter these impending attacks. While these two events took place in Vancouver, events as part of the International Period of Action were taking place in 29 cities mainly throughout the U.S.

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