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    The 8th Annual Vancouver International Hip Hop 4 Peace Festival
    Peace! An Element of Hip Hop

    By Shakeel Lochan

    The bringing together of the struggle of oppressed people around the world with Hip Hop, is a basis of the Annual Vancouver International Hip Hop 4 Peace Festival. Now in it’s 8th year the festival, organized by antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War & Occupation returns to Greater Vancouver, B.C. Canada - PEACE! An Element of Hip Hop!

    The inception of Hip Hop was a voice of people facing systemic poverty and racism. Today Hip Hop is a voice of people around the world facing a new era of growing war and occupation characterized by attacks on independent nations, poor and working people by competing imperialist countries like the US, Canada, Britain and France. Through sanctions, military invasions and occupations these countries seek to expand their hegemony. These attacks exist abroad and at home through increasing poverty, theft of land and resources, unemployment, rising tuition costs and drastic cuts to social programs.

    This new era began in Afghanistan in 2001, then Iraq in 2003, Haiti in 2004, Libya in 2010 and ongoing occupation of Palestine. Today the priority targets are Syria and long time central objective - Iran!

    With Syria, the U.S and allies preceded their demand for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with sanctions affecting the ability of Syrian people to access food and medicine. The U.S. is waging overt and covert operations through it’s CIA, puppet governments and their military forces. These operations include arming, and funding opposition forces. The result has been chaos on the verge of all out war, shattering any authentic struggle for improved social conditions. Canada is pursues it’s own interests, supporting the call for the overthrow of the current Syrian government through sanctions, funding, and intensifying rhetoric.

    Recently there has been discussion of a No-Fly-Zone on Syria. This is the very same intervention sprung by the UN Security Council against sovereign Libya along with sanctions, U.S. tomahawk cruise missiles, the arming of mercenary forces and funding of a puppet “transitional government.” Then came the lethal U.S. lead NATO bombing campaign that included complete support by Canada whom supplied F18 Fighter Jets to the invasion. These airstrikes killed Libyan civilians and decimated infrastructure carving out the way for the assassination of President Muammar Gaddafi. Today Libya is a fragmented country facing continued violence, corruption, foreign manipulation and exploitation. The fallacy of a resounding U.S / NATO successful mission in Libya is in fact a bleak future for the Libyan people and potentially herald what could happen in Syria.

    However, what takes place Syria and took place in Libya is leading directly into the heart of Iran. The U.S., Canada and allies have claimed that Iran is the single biggest threat to world peace. They have prophesied that Iran’s nuclear energy development is a road to nuclear destruction. The right of the Iranians to develop their own society has been made into something sinister. Since the overthrow of the U.S. backed Shah in 1979, Iran has been a pillar of independence. It is this independence that threatens the dominance of U.S. imperialism. It is this reason that the U.S. has imposed illegal and unjust sanctions on Iran, manipulated International Atomic Energy Agency reports on Iran’s nuclear development, demonized Iranian self-determination and stationed a veritable army off the coast of Iran. The U.S. of which has the largest stockpile of nuclear missiles in the world and the only county to use them not once, but twice, continues it’s hypocritical and deadly campaign.

    Within this context imperialist countries wage an intense clamping down on human rights and freedom to protest. A relevant example is the case of Bradley Manning – the U.S. soldier, who exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and in turn was arrested, thrown into solitary confinement, faced torture, and continues to struggle inside of prison. Bradley Manning is a hero of a fledgling antiwar movement, a fighter for humanity and a standard for fighters from the 5 Burroughs of New York, to the streets of Tunisia and Egypt. Hip Hop lives and breathes within our poor and working communities versus war and occupation. It is a voice of oppressed people across the world. It is through this art that we can broaden the movement for peace. It is within this culture that we can educate, organize and mobilize.

    “Power to the people, cause the people want PEACE!”
    – Public Enemy

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