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      Poetry Night for Peace
      Vancouver Peace Activists Demand an End to War

      By Janine Solanki

      The new era of war and occupation, which began with the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has carved a path of death and destruction throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. Every day there are more reasons to stand together as peace-loving people against the deadly U.S. war machine. From brutal sanctions imposed on the people of Iran and Venezuela, to the continued bombardment of Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition armed with U.S., Canadian, and European weaponry.

      On November 10, the U.S. government backed a military coup against President Evo Morales in Bolivia, escalating imperialist attacks against people in Latin America, particularly those fighting for their self-determination and sovereignty. In neighboring Chile, people are continuing to protest neo-liberalism and austerity despite facing horrific police and military brutality unleashed upon them by the U.S.-allied President Piñera. Meanwhile in Palestine, the Israeli military unleashed two days of bloody bombardment on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip starting November 12, killing at least 34 people and wounding over 100.

      On November 15, 2019 Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) organized an antiwar rally and petition campaign in downtown Vancouver, which is held monthly for the last 16 years, as long as imperialist wars, occupation and aggressions continue against oppressed nations around the world. Banners and picket signs reading “U.S. Out of the Middle East and North Africa!” and “U.S./Saudi Arabia Hands Off Yemen!” attracted the attention of many passers-by, who stopped by the information table to pick up antiwar literature and talk to organizers. Teams of activists also collected petition signatures from people passing through the busy plaza. The petition demands that Canada end its $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia for so-called “light” armoured vehicles – a deal which exposes the government of Canada’s complacency and support of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen.

      The day’s activities continued after the protest, with a “Poetry for Peace” cultural night at East Vancouver’s Britannia Community Center. The event started out with a collection of music videos with an antiwar message, before Azza Rojbi, MAWO executive committee member, spoke about her newly published book, “U.S. and Saudi War on the People of Yemen”. The evening included several poems in Spanish: Lucy Ortiz, President of Proyecto Cultural Sur Vancouver; Macarena Cataldo, also a Proyecto Cultural Sur member and Chilean activist; Mayra Climaco, a Nicaraguan poet and social justice activist and former Sandinista fighter; and Stephany Mazuera, Colombian social justice activist and graduate of the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba. MAWO organizer Shakeel Lochan shared his spoken word, and poetry was also shared by activist Neb Jorgacevic and political editor of Fire This Time Newspaper Ali Yerevani. In between poets, participants got up on their feet and danced to the beats of one of the best local Hip Hop MC’s, Estea Elements, who reflects socially conscious rhymes through his music. This beautiful evening of music and poetry gave voice to the hopes and goals of activists and supporters with MAWO, for a world of peace, and without war.

      For upcoming MAWO events and actions, please visit www.mawovancouver.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter @MAWO_Van

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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