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      U.S. Out of Afghanistan!
      Vancouver Protests 16 Years of War and Occupation of Afghanistan During International Days of Action

      By Janine Solanki

      October 7th, 2001 marked the beginning of the U.S.-led so-called “war on terror”, what is more accurately a war OF terror. With the thin excuse of responding to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Afghanistan was invaded and subsequently occupied. 16 years later not only is Afghanistan still under U.S. occupation, but the new era of war and occupation which has expanded, country after country, over the last 16 years. Now in addition to the destruction that war has inflicted upon Afghanistan, we also have Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria bearing the wounds of war, along with military operations and drone attacks on other countries in Africa and the Middle East. A single result shows just how devastating the entire new era of war and occupation has been. The world now is facing the largest refugee crisis in human history, and these refugees are coming from the countries under U.S.-led wars because war and occupation has made their homelands uninhabitable.

      For Afghanistan, the situation has become increasingly worse. By September 2017 was shaping up to be the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians since the 2001 invasion, according to The Guardian newspaper. A record number of civilians, 1,662 – were killed in the first six months of 2017, a 2% increase from the same period last year. An additional 3,581 civilians were wounded. These numbers were released in a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. This increase came with a 23% rise in the number of women killed, and child deaths were up 9% compared with the same period last year.

      The war in Afghanistan is not winding down after 16 years – on June 13, 2017, U.S. President Trump announced the U.S. would be sending nearly 4000 additional troops to Afghanistan, to be joined by 3000 additional forces promised by NATO. This will bring the total troop number to nearly 20,000 in Afghanistan.

      To protest the continuing war and occupation in Afghanistan, leading antiwar organizers in the U.S. called for International Days of Action October 2nd to 8th. In Vancouver, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) answered this call and organized for a rally and petition campaign on October 7th, in Downtown Vancouver. The rally opened with a welcoming song and drumming from Eagle Eyes, an Indigenous activist and hereditary chief from Sechelt. MAWO Chair Alison Bodine led the crowd in chants of “US Hands Off Afghanistan!” and emceed the program, as well as announced a new MAWO petition against the U.S. war and occupation in Afghanistan, highlighting the recent U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan. MAWO executive committee Janine Solanki spoke on the role Canada has played, from 2001 onwards, in the war and occupation of Afghanistan, and how Canada continues as an imperialist player in this new era of war and occupation. David Whittlesey, MAWO organizer and long-time antiwar activist since the Vietnam war, also spoke and encouraged people to keep up organizing and protesting against war.

      Following the program, activists approached passers-by who stopped to add their signature to the petition against the U.S. in Afghanistan. Local news radio station News1130 also came to cover the rally and reflected the protest online and over the radio.

      While this month’s rally was especially important to mark the anniversary of the war on Afghanistan, MAWO has organized an antiwar rally and petition campaign every month since MAWO formed. October 2017 also marked MAWO’s 14-year anniversary, and since MAWO started organizing on October 29th, 2003 MAWO has been constantly expanding and finding more communities and organizations to unite with against war with both locally and internationally. MAWO continues to stand by the cornerstones of organizing, educating and mobilizing with creativity, consistency and, as demonstrated in organizing on this international day of action, also with coordination. Now more than ever is a critical time to be organizing against the expanding new era of war and occupation, and MAWO encourages more antiwar groups and peace-loving people to come together against war and occupation.

      For more information on upcoming MAWO events and actions visit ,a href="http://www.mawovancouver.org"> www.mawovancouver.org , find MAWO on Facebook or follow on Twitter @mawovan. To see the full list of endorsers of the International Days of Action and for information about events in other cities across the United States visit: www.notowar.net

      U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now!
      No to War and Occupation! Yes to Self-Determination!

      Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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