Some of the worst, record-breaking humanitarian crises are taking place in the world right now, and it is not just a stroke of chance behind this immense human suffering. Humanity is still experiencing the largest refugee crisis in human history, due to war. The countries with some of the largest numbers of refugees, namely Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, are countries that have bore the brunt of US backed wars, occupations and military interventions that have made their homelands uninhabitable. Yemen is experiencing the world’s largest ever recorded cholera outbreak, with 360,000 suspected cases in the three months since the outbreak started, as reported by Oxfam as of July 21, 2017. This is occurring after over two years of a US-backed Saudi-led war and continuous bombing campaign on Yemen which has destroyed vital infrastructure including sanitation facilities and even hospitals run by Doctors Without Borders. Furthermore, a Saudi-led land, sea and air blockade has prevented humanitarian supplies and medicines from entering the country.
The governments of both the US and Canada have recently announced increased military spending, which means they are preparing more wars. Why increase military capacity, if not to use it? With the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the bombing on Libya, the US-fomented civil war and now direct military intervention in Syria and the threats and sanctions against Iran, we have had over 16 years of a new era of war and occupation. Throughout this time and increasingly, Canada is making a name for itself as a top weapons manufacturer, supplying weapons to its top buyer, the US, and its second biggest customer Saudi Arabia, as well as other war-mongering countries. Already the $15 billion sale of Canadian-made armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia has caused controversy, and more so recently as video footage has been released showing Canadian made military vehicles used to repress protests in Saudi Arabia.
On July 21, Mobilization Against War and occupation (MAWO) held a monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign in downtown Vancouver, with an information table, banners and picket signs carrying the demands of US/Canada/NATO - Hands off Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Venezuela, North Korea, the Middle East and North Africa.
The rally started out with a welcoming song from Eagle Eyes, an Indigenous hereditary chief from Sechelt, who acknowledged the unceded territories of the Coast Salish people that the rally was taking place upon. Activists approached passersby to sign a petition demanding that Canada end its $15 billion arms deal, and all arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Many positive conversations were sparked by petitioners and organizers at the busy information table, as people stopped by to discuss and get more information.
Eagle Eyes honored the rally with a closing song, and this month’s rally came to an end with the resolve to continue organizing, educating and mobilizing against war and occupation. Mobilization Against War and Occupation has been organizing monthly antiwar rallies for almost 14 years, along with antiwar forums, picket actions and cultural events. To find out more about upcoming antiwar actions in Vancouver visit www.mawovancouver.org, follow on twitter @MAWOVan, or find MAWO on Facebook
No to War and Occupation! Yes to Self-Determination!
US/Canada/NATO: Hands off the Middle East and North Africa!
Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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