“Educate! Organize! Mobilize!” Throughout the decades, these three words have outlined the tasks of social movements the world over. In Vancouver’s antiwar coalition, Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) these are three words that can be seen in action throughout MAWO’s ongoing work to oppose this new era of war and occupation that we are living in. Right now the center of this war drive is the Middle East, where the U.S. is using their military might to try to gain complete hegemony over the region. Two countries, Iran and Syria, stand in the way of complete U.S. domination, as countries with independent governments that do not follow the dictates of the U.S. government. Iran and Syria are heavily targeted by imperialist forces right now – and therefore two countries which the antiwar movement must defend from sanctions, covert operations, and military intervention.
The actions of the U.S., Canada and other imperialist countries are criminal, unjust and inhuman – the sanctions that cripple economies and effect peoples ability to access food, medicines and other essentials; the directing, funding and supplying of weapons to forces inside other countries in efforts to overthrow a sovereign government; and finally the direct military intervention that kills indiscriminately with missiles and bombs. However how this is portrayed in the all pervasive mainstream media is that this is all against a evil dictator and to protect the human rights of people that U.S. politicians claim to care so much about.
Antiwar events that aim to educate with not only information but by opening the floor to discussion, and yes, debate, are essential. How can an antiwar organization have any demands, without informed activists that are put to the test of debate? MAWO organizes bi-monthly free public forums for this aim, the most recent titled “State of War in Syria! U.S, E.U, NATO Hands Off Syria!” At this forum on Tuesday July 10th, MAWO co-chair and forum MC Alison Bodine started the forum with a section of news clips that showed alternative media’s coverage of events in Syria. This exposed the blatant lies and manipulation being touted in the mainstream news, and the heavy hand that the U.S. and their allies play in the rebel actions in Syria. The video clips were followed by speakers Janine Solanki, MAWO co-chair, and Ali Yerevani, political editor of the Fire This Time newspaper and participant in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The speakers provided more analysis and history to the current targeting of Syria, as well as a overview of the world situation that this imperialist offensive is taking place in. After the speakers the floor was opened to discussion, which centered not only on the facts of what is happening in Syria, but also what we as antiwar activists can do to oppose the war drive against Syria.
Organize – then Mobilize!
The forum finished with participants being invited to join MAWO’s next event – the monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign – to take the information and arguments that had just been discussed to the streets. Every month MAWO holds rally and petition campaigns in downtown Vancouver in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and on Saturday July 21st the demands focused on “Hands Off Iran and Syria!” and “Free Bradley Manning Now!” (to learn more about MAWO’s Free Bradley Manning Campaign, see page **). Teams of petitioners hit the streets and interrupted the flow of a busy downtown Saturday afternoon to ask passer-by’s “would you like to sign a petition against sanctions and war on Syria?” “sign your name to demand no sanctions on Iran!” and “sign the petition – free Bradley Manning!” which resulted in petition signatures but also good discussions and hundreds of leaflets, newsletters and brochures distributed. An informational table was set up with banners reflecting the demands of the petition campaign, and was the source of much attraction as people stopped to get more information, sign petitions, and to discuss and debate with MAWO organizers. These MAWO rally and petition drives serve to mobilize on the streets against war and occupation, but also to educate on a broader scale as activists reach out to the public and engage new people in the struggle against war and occupation.
While forums and rally and petition campaigns are part of MAWO’s consistent monthly antiwar events, MAWO also holds organizational meetings, conferences, pickets, the annual MAWO Hip Hop Festival for Peace and Film Festival for Peace. To find out about MAWO’s next event or get more information, visit http://www.mawovancouver.org
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