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      Antiwar Actions in Vancouver to Build an Effective and Strong Antiwar Movement

      By Janine Solanki

      Since the 2001 U.S.-led war against Afghanistan began, we have been living in a new era of war and occupation characterized by an imperialist war drive continuously opening new fronts of war, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. and their imperialist allies have been trying to regain hegemony of the Middle East and North Africa through their brutal military interventions, at the expense of innocent lives and the destruction of countries to the point of making them uninhabitable. It is no wonder that we are now seeing the worst refugee crisis in human history, with imperialist wars and occupations to blame.

      Throughout this new era of war and occupation, Canada has taken a large and increasing role, especially with the wars, occupation and continuously bombings of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya. Most recently on July 11th, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Canada would be taking on a leadership role in the continued occupation of Iraq. Canada will be in command of a new so-called “training and capacity building” NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) mission. This will involve at least 250 Canadian soldiers and four Griffon helicopters.

      To protest these criminal and inhumane wars and occupations, every month Vancouver’s antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) holds an antiwar rally and petition campaign in downtown Vancouver. On July 20th, MAWO activists and organizers held picket signs and put up banners reading “U.S./Saudi Arabia Hands Off Yemen!” and “Don’t Attack Syria – U.S. Out of the Middle East!” Many people passing by the busy downtown square stopped at the information table and left with antiwar literature to read through and buttons to pin to their shirts. Teams of activists talked with passers-by who stopped to sign on to a petition demanding that the government of Canada stop its $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia for so-called “light” armoured vehicles, which in reality are lethally armed military vehicles resembling tanks. This is on top of the more than $284 million in exports of Canadian weapons and military goods to not only Saudi Arabia but also other countries which have been bombing and blockading Yemen for the past three years, creating what the United Nations has called “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time”. Before wrapping up the action, MAWO chair spoke to bring more attention to the crisis that war has brought to the Yemeni people, as well as condemned the deaths of four Palestinian people that day, killed at the hands of Israeli zionist forces. These deaths are on top of 135 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since March 30, when a campaign of protests began.

      Alongside MAWO’s events and actions, MAWO is also bringing antiwar politics to Vancouver summer festivals! On July 8, MAWO had a table at the Commercial Drive Car Free Festival, a 15 block street festival that draws tens of thousands of people. MAWO activists had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of people walking by, many who stopped to sign petitions and get more information!

      As long as these imperialist wars and occupations are continuing, MAWO is committed to organizing, educating and mobilizing with the demands of NO to war and occupation, YES to self-determination! To find out about upcoming MAWO events and actions, visit www.mawovancouver.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter at @MAWOVan

      Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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