Where is Afghanistan Going?
Vancouver Activists Protest Canada/NATO War & Occupation in Afghanistan
By Nita Palmer
November 2007 Picket
Since July 2005, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) has organized nearly 40 consistent picket actions against the ongoing Canada/NATO war drive in Afghanistan. For the 35th picket action on November 6th 2007, over 30 Vancouverites protested in front of the Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Office in downtown Vancouver, demanding “Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan NOW!” Several media outlets filmed the picket and interviewed organizers about MAWO’s Canada Out of Afghanistan campaign, which has collected over 13,000 petition signatures to date. The picket was opened by MAWO Co-chair Janine Solanki, who read the statement to the press. “NATO sends air strikes under the cover of darkness that have whole villages, children, women and elders as their targets. These are the real terrorists, not the Afghan people who continue to resist and fight back against the occupying forces.” Activists began picketing, yelling loud and clear their demands of “Troops Home Now!” and calling for an independent public inquiry into the Canadian war drive.
MAWO Executive Committee member Andrew Barry spoke about the war at home against immigrants, refugees, and non-status people in Canada. He condemned the political targeting and arrest of MAWO co-chair Alison Bodine, who is currently facing a two-year ban from Canada. David Whittelesy, a veteran civil rights activist and an organizer with MAWO, connected the war on oppressed people in Canada to the crimes against humanity carried out by occupation forces in Afghanistan. MAWO-SFU organizer Nicole Burton closed the picket with an emphasis on the need for working and oppressed people to organize and fight back against the criminal occupation of Afghanistan.
December 2007 Picket
On a rainy day on December 4th 2007, 30 people rallied at the recruitment centre once again to demand an end to the Canada/NATO war in Afghanistan. The picket was opened by MAWO executive committee member Lindsay Clarke, who read the statement to the press. Strong anti-war sentiment filled the streets with picketing and chants of “End the Occupation Now! Self-determination Now!”
Lindsay introduced US War Resister Brad McCall, who spoke on his experience as a US soldier who refused to fight in the war on Iraq. Picketers were again joined by David Whittlesey, who shared his perspective as a veteran anti-war organizer. Andrew Barry spoke as well with new updates on the case of Alison Bodine.
Next to speak was Oji-Cree Indigenous rights activist and MAWO organizer Kerri Goodwin. “They are stealing the land and resources that is rightfully ours and for what? To benefit their own pockets. They are destroying the people of Afghanistan as they are doing to Indigenous people here at home,” said Kerri.
To end off, MAWO executive committee member Kira Koshelanyk wrapped up the picket by emphasizing the need to build a consistent, broad and effective anti-war movement. Kira’s speech was met with cheers and more demands of “Canada Out of Afghanistan NOW!”
Why We Are Picketing?
MAWO’s pickets are a strong response to the ongoing Canada/NATO campaign of bloodshed and terror in Afghanistan. As their occupation slips more and more into crisis, occupation forces are increasingly resorting to bombings of entire villages to get rid of the Taliban. In recent months, the Taliban has taken control of more and more areas of Afghanistan, as poor Afghans with no option left but to fight for their self-determination and survival join what is, whether we like it or not, the strongest and most organized resistance force – the Taliban. A senior British officer in Afghanistan recently admitted that NATO controlled “at most” 20% of southern Afghanistan. Even in the so-called “Green Zone” of Kabul, occupation forces are beginning to come under attack.
Afghanistan’s occupation-backed government is another crisis and source of anger for Afghan people. A 2006 poll by the Asia Foundation found that 77% of Afghans believed that corruption was a major problem in their country. This so-called “democratically elected” government is in reality still run by warlords who reap the profits of the occupation while others starve.
Canada and NATO are today trapped by a monster they have created. After six years of being stuck under the thumb of a corrupt government and a foreign occupation, the people of Afghanistan have said “enough!” and are fighting for their self-determination and their dignity. The occupation forces have failed to achieve their goals of profit and plunder in Afghanistan, but they are desperately clinging to the possibility that they will be able to achieve their interests there.
Here in Canada, we must continue the campaign of monthly picket actions and other events to stand with our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and demand:
Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!
Independent Public Inquiry Now!
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