Vancouver's antiwar coalition, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) formed on October 29th, 2003. It had been two years since the invasion of Afghanistan and seven months since the U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq. Peace-loving people in Vancouver had gathered to form a coalition that would organize consistent actions and events to respond to a growing new era of war and occupation that had already begun to bring incalculable death and destruction to poor and oppressed people all over the globe.
Nine years later even a quick glance at the headlines will show just how far colonial governments like the U.S. and Canada have gone to expand their bloody game with threats, covert foreign intervention and sanctions against the people of Iran and Syria. With bi-monthly forums, organizing meetings, a monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign and regular cultural events, MAWO has continued to educate, organize and mobilize against imperialist wars and occupations and for self-determination of all oppressed nations.
Hands Off Syria! Don’t Attack Iran!
By the middle of October, news headlines were filled with reports about the devastation caused by the imposed civil war in Syria. The war was escalating with a Western-allied Turkey sending artillery fire strikes into Syria. A new round of European Union sanctions against Iran was announced in a further attempt to destabilize Iran in the midst of a vicious campaign of covert foreign military intervention and demonization of the Iranian government in major media.
MAWO organized a public form and discussion in order to respond to these attacks. Following 45 minutes of news clips, forum speaker Ali Yerevani, Political Editor of Fire This Time Newspaper and participant in the 1979 Iranian revolution spoke about the overall strategy of imperialist governments against Syria and Iran and the impact that a war against Syria and Iran would have on the Middle East and North Africa.
9 Years of Antiwar Organizing: Looking Back and Moving Forward
On October 29, MAWO gathered at Joe’s Cafe on Commercial Drive for a cultural evening to reflect on the nine years of antiwar organizing and MAWO’s commitment to continue fighting against war and occupation and for a better world.
MAWO co-chairs Janine Solanki and Alison Bodine emceed the night, and began by welcoming a crowd of costumed antiwar organizers with a short history of MAWO organizing and an energizing speech about the necessity to continue the struggle against imperialist wars and occupation. The evening was filled with some of Vancouver’s best talent including Mexican folk singer Yahara Muñoz, the always fresh MC Joose Justis, talented hip-hopper Sunnite Marx, singer/songwriter Zane Barrat, and MAWO organizers, the exceptional poet Shakeel Lochan and soulful performer Payvand Pejvack.
What’s Next in the Middle East and North Africa?
Joe’s Cafe was once again a hub of discussion and debate on Tuesday November 13th, when MAWO held a public forum highlighting the struggle of oppressed people fighting against U.S. backed regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. MAWO Co-chair Janine Solanki outlined recent mass protests in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain, contrasting their struggle with that of the so-called rebels in Syria. She also explored what the U.S. government has to gain from sanctions, covert operations and possible military intervention in Syria.
MAWO Organized Events Against Israeli’s War on Gaza
On Wednesday November 14, Israel launched their latest campaign of airstrikes on Gaza. By the time a ceasefire took effect on Wednesday November 21st, 158 Palestinians and 6 Israeli’s had been killed. Mobilization Against War and Occupation responded to these attacks by organizing two actions.
The first was a MAWO monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign on Saturday November 17th. The demands of the rally were changed to respond to the urgent situation in Gaza - Stop Israel’s War on Gaza! No War and Sanctions on Syria and Iran! Peace-loving people gathered at the busy Vancouver Public Library holding picket signs and banners, and asking people to sign petitions demanding no to war and sanctions on Syria and no to war and sanctions on Iran.
The following Tuesday was a a public forum and discussion called “Self-Determination for Palestine! Stop Israel’s War on Gaza!” The forum began with 1 hour of news clips covering not only the recent massacre of the people of Gaza but the over 64 year occupation of Palestine by Israel and the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people resisting the occupation of their land.
Speakers at the forum included Azza Rojbi, a young Tunisian social justice activist, student organizer and MAWO Executive Committee member, who spoke on “Palestinian Struggle for Self-Determination and Gaza’s Resistance to the Israeli Blockade and Occupation in the Context of Mass Revolutionary Movements in the Middle East and North Africa”; Noah Fine, a young anti-Zionist Jewish activist who spoke on “Why Jewish People in the Middle East and Around the World Need to Oppose Zionism and Defend Self-Determination for Palestinian People?”; and Ali Yerevani – political editor of the Fire This Time newspaper and the Battle of Idea’s Press. Who spoke on“What is Behind Israel’s Latest War on Gaza? Why We Need an Ongoing and Consistent Solidarity Campaign for Palestine.”
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