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      MAWO Starts off Summer with Education, Organizing & Mobilizing Against War & Occupation!

      By Janine Solanki

      wars to demand an end to, and potential wars to prevent. Since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan we have seen a new era of war and occupation carried out by imperialist countries. This has included the wars on Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, U.S.-backed right-wing coups such as in Ukraine and the recent attempted coup in Venezuela, and brutal sanctions from Venezuela to Iran.

      This year marks 70 years of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a dangerous military alliance. Since the horrific bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, NATO has been increasingly used to wage imperialist wars, such as in Afghanistan and Libya, and are currently engaged in a military buildup in Eastern Europe. All of these NATO campaigns have been with heavy involvement from the Canadian military, who have inflicted death and destruction in these countries.

      June 6 Picket

      A protest action was held outside of Canada’s Defence Minister MP Harjit Sajjan’s office in Vancouver. The action, co-organized by Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) and Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), demanded “Canada out of NATO!” and for Canada to stop putting money into NATO while housing, jobs, healthcare and education suffer from a lack of funding here at home. This action was part of protests against NATO across Canada.

      June 6 Forum

      Later that same day, MAWO organized a public forum with the endorsement of VOW, titled “Making the Links: Militarism, War & the Climate Crisis”. This event brought together two major crises facing our world, imperialist wars and occupations and the climate emergency. In both cases, the U.S. is the largest perpetrator. The U.S. military is the world’s largest polluter; producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined; emitting more greenhouse gases than most countries; and contaminating the soil and water supply of military bases in the U.S., in over 800 foreign U.S. military bases, and in the countries which they invade, bomb and occupy.

      MAWO Starts off Summer with Education, Organizing & Mobilizing Against War & Occupation! The forum was chaired by Alison Bodine, MAWO’s chairperson, and started out with a series of video clips highlighting the environmental impacts of the U.S. military. The first speaker was Tamara Lorincz, who is a PhD candidate at Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the No to NATO 2019 Campaign. Lorincz gave a comprehensive account of how the U.S. military and NATO are not only inflicting war on people around the world but polluting the earth on a massive scale. The following speaker, Thomas Davies, is an organizer with Climate Convergence Vancouver and MAWO, as well as author of “System Change Not Climate Change” (Battle of Ideas Press, 2019). Davies spoke about the necessity to build a broad and united movement of both climate justice activists and antiwar activists, and to realize the potential that this movement has together. The event wrapped up with a discussion period and concluded that more collaboration between antiwar and climate justice organizations is to come.

      June 28 Rally

      Later in the month, MAWO also held a monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign. The June 28 action was held at the busy downtown Vancouver plaza in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and focused on demanding “No War on Iran!” and “Hands Off Yemen!”.

      In addition to harsh sanctions and increasing provocations, U.S. President Trump has announced that the U.S. government will be sending 1,000 more troops to the Middle East, adding to the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers already headed towards Iran. As the U.S. dangerously threatens war against Iran, in Yemen four years of a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war is still raging. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) reported in June that since 2015 nearly 100,000 people have been killed, while 12 million more people that are living on the edge of starvation.

      Protesters at the June 28 action held picket signs and antiwar banners, handed out antiwar literature to passers-by, and collected signatures on a petition demanding Canada end its $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Alongside Saudi Arabia buying weapons from Canada on a regular basis, this particular arms deal is for so-called “light armoured vehicles” which are in reality heavily weaponized military vehicles.

      To find out about upcoming antiwar events and actions, visit www.mawovancouver.org, follow MAWO on Facebook or on Twitter @MAWOVan

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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