MAWO & International ANSWER Organize
By Nita Palmer
March 16 Conference
On March 16, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and International ANSWER marked the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with an historic antiwar conference. Antiwar activists from both sides of the Canada-US border gathered in Seattle, Washington, to discuss the most pressing issues facing antiwar organizers in the US and Canada today.
The conference opened with a presentation on “The Battle of Ideas in the New Era of War and Occupation” by Ali Yerevani, political editor of the Fire This Time newspaper. This was followed by a presentation on the occupation of Iraq by Jane Cutter, coordinator of International ANSWER–Seattle, and a presentation on Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan by Kira Koshelanyk, executive member of MAWO and member of the Fire This Time Newspaper Editorial Board. Both presentations emphasized the importance of the demand: “Self-Determination for Oppressed Nations!”
Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) organizers Brendan Funtek and Drew Hendricks from Olympia, WA then talked about the PMR actions at ports in Washington that have successfully stopped and slowed down military shipments to occupied Iraq.
The conference closed with a presentation titled “The Central Challenge to Humanity Today: Building a Broad and Effective Antiwar Movement” by MAWO Co-Chair Alison Bodine, who was banned from Canada this fall after being politically targeted by the Canada Border Services Agency (http://alisonbodine.blogspot.com).
This international conference was the first of its kind organized by MAWO working together with many partners across the border, including ANSWER Seattle, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee, and World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime. The conference marked the beginning of what must be many more of such cross-border conferences by antiwar groups all along the US-Canada border in order to strengthen our work and common interests.
March 20 Picket
On Thursday, March 20 2008, MAWO held their 40th picket action in front of the Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Center in Vancouver calling for “Canada/NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!” The picket also came just a week after the decision by parliament to extend Canada’s brutal occupation of Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011.
Kira Koshelanyk, MAWO executive member, opened the picket by reading a statement to the press which condemned the decision in parliament to extend the occupation of Afghanistan. An energetic round of picketing followed the press statement, encouraged by passing cars that honked in support. Picketers paused to hear Mike Larson, a Capilano College student and MAWO organizer speak on how young people and students feel the effects of this war drive at home and abroad. He emphasized the necessity for youth in Canada to get involved in the antiwar movement. The picket ended with a speech by Thomas Davies, a member of the Fire This Time Newspaper Editorial Board and trade unionist, and a declaration by the organizers that these pickets and other antiwar actions will continue until all Canadian, NATO and foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
For more information or to get involved in MAWO’s upcoming events, please visit: www.mawovancouver.org
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