clear" message as Spring reaches Halifax:
"No to foreign occupation of Iraq!"
-- Initially more than 70 are on hand, at short notice, to hear views
and speak themselves against the foreign occupation of Iraq; then the
open-air gathering resolves to demonstrate through the main streets downtown
as numbers swell to more than 150.
vigorous gathering, called on about 36 hours' notice, assembled in front
of the Halifax Library Main branch on Spring Garden Road early in the
afternoon of Saturday, April 10, to oppose the U.S. occupation in Iraq
and denounce the machinations under way to prevent the Iraqi people from
exercising their right of self-determination. Throughout Canada and around
the world, similar emergency protests were being held as U.S. marines
blockaded, bombed and shelled civilian quarters of Falluja, a city of
300,000 people, displacing one quarter to one third of the population.
residents from all walks of life and a wide range in age, from infants
and pre-teen youth to retirees and all generations in between, responded
to the call initiated by the People's Front (Halifax), the Canada-Palestine
Association and a number of well-known local anti-war activists, to come
take a stand in one of the most public venues in the city, visible to
thousands of passers-by.
less than eleven people, ranging in age from 12 to post-retirement, addressed
the gathering, giving views against the illegal and criminal war unleashed
by the U.S.-led-coalition and the subsequent cruel occupation, as well
as in favour of the resistance struggle of the Iraqi people to reclaim
their country from all foreign occupiers and interference. Such a level
of public speaking participation was unprecedented and had not been seen
up to now at the numerous and varied anti-war actions -- forums, demonstrations
and other events -- which have unfolded in Halifax since Canada's sending
of troops to Afghanistan less than a month following 9-11. As they spoke,
the lawn of the Library Main Branch, a commons that progressive people
in Halifax have for decades cherished and defended as their "spot"
and soap-boxing zone, was bedecked with numerous anti-war, People's Front
and anti-imperialist banners and picket signs.
common thread in all the speeches was that Canada must play a role internationally
in the interests of the world's people and in support of their right to
decide their own futures. This includes opposing U.S. threats and blackmail
against Canadian sovereignty.
myth of "humanizing" occupation
Isaac Saney, chairing the proceedings, spoke strongly -- "four-square"
-- in favour of the Iraqi people's right of self-determination, vigorously
refuting the attempts to paint the country as being on the "brink
of civil war". "Iraqis have never engaged in civil war",
he pointed out. "They rose as a nation in 1920 to throw out the British
colonial occupier" and were the world's first victims of air assault
from chemical weapons when the "Royal Air Force", with the enthusiastic
support of Winston Churchill, deployed poison gas on Kurdish tribes in
that, contrary to illusions being purveyed in some quarters, there can
never be such a thing as a peaceful military occupation or "soft
imperialism", he noted the U.S. media is openly advocating war crimes:
the Wall Street Journal had called for "public executions" and
US columnist George Will for "overwhelming use of force" in
Iraq. The calls to "humanize the occupation" by emphasizing
"aid and development" -- or a multilateral UN force under U.S.
as Spain and others now demand -- dictate conciliate with and defend the
occupation. He reiterated that the only road to a solution was in the
self-reliant hands of the Iraqi people themselves, not the foreign occupier.
complicit in war crimes
Ismail Zayid, president of the Canada-Palestine
Association, reminded the gathering of the responsibility of both
George W Bush and Tony Blair for plunging the people of Iraq into "this
bloody mess" on the basis of "bald-faced lies" about weapons
of mass destruction, the alleged "readiness to attack London or Washington
in only 45 minutes' notice", and the invention of links between Saddam
Hussein and al-Qaeda.
we are beginning to see in Iraq under Bremer and the Iraqi Governing Council
had already been seen in Palestine at the hands of the Zionist occupier
since 1967 -- massive violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in every
clause and sub-clause as war crimes and crimes against humanity mounted,
ranging from collective punishments, house demolitions, importation of
settlers, etc. Canada was not innocent: "Our government is one of
the most hypocritical practitioners of double standards, never criticising
the Zionists for their provocations while never failing to condemn in
the strongest terms, as 'terrorist', any Palestinian act of self-defence."
amongst big powers bound to sharpen
Zatzman, a co-editor of the Dossier
on Palestine, stated that "there can be no freedom for the Iraqi
people or any other amid the bayonets of the occupier". The ruling
circles of France, Russia, Germany and others covet the oil resources
of the Iraqi people, and resent the U.S. demand that "all countries
must accept that the entire world is a U.S. sphere of influence".
He warned that "this inter-imperialist contradiction is bound to
sharpen, as the factor posing the gravest danger of a third world war."
Canada is "fishing in troubled waters. It seeks to make hay while
the sun shines", espousing an international rule of law that is nothing
but "the right of the big powers ot engage in secret diplomacy, conspire
against the peoples and call this the 'will of the international community'."
questioned the ability of the United Nations as currently constituted
to defend the weak and vulnerable, since "the UN Security Council
has betrayed the UN Charter in sanctioning governments and constitutions
based on the conception of the European nation-state, which defends the
property rights of contending forces while doing nothing to defend an
international order where every country, big or small is equal and where
their right to self-determination is defended. What happened recently
in Haiti, as well as US attempts to overthrow the Chavez regime in Venezuela,
and threats against Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Syria, Iran and China
exemplified the dangerous level to which matters had now descended on
concluded that "peoples are entitled to constitute their nations
on the basis of the principles which guide them to elabotrate a way of
life that permits their own people to flourish and contribute to the same
flourishing for all others."
slaughter: 1,600 dead and injured in Fallujah
Nouman Ali, an Iraqi-Canadian engineering professor, related the first-hand
news he had received from his sister suffering under the occupation in
his homeland. He bitterly denounced the United States. "They have
lost all credibility. They must leave immediately. They are doing anything
they please in Falluja, in al-Kut, as though the needs and will of the
Iraqi people were nothing. The Iraqi so-called Governing Council is a
mess, a 'gang of 25' that the Americans should take with them."
the United Nations intervene to look after the humanitarian needs of Iraq,
he noted at present the people themselves -- Sunni and Shi'a civilians
assembling their own convoy and "walking 60 km there through US Marine
checkpoints" -- were the only reason any humanitarian aid reached
the 300,000 people of besieged Falluja on Friday. There, some 1,200 people
have been reported injured and more than 400 killed after the occupier
resolved to avenge the deaths in Falluja earlier in the week of four US
used weapons of mass destruction
El-dewary of the Arab Students Union passionately denounced the "genocide
going in Iraq for the last fifteen years", singling the especially dirty
role of the United States in deploying Depleted Uranium to devastating effect
on the immediate generation as well as future generations unborn. "The
U.S should cease proliferation of its own weapons of mass destruction before
it dares to utter a word about anyone else's, actual or otherwise", she
voice filling with emotion as she mounted the library steps to speak,
Dr Sheila Zurbrigg, a member of Physicians Against the War and long-time
campaigner (with CANESI) against the vicious campaign of more than a decade
of UN sanctions against the Iraqi people, was extremely gratified to see
the level of support beinghttp://canesi.org/ shown to the "twenty-five million vulnerable
people of Iraq" at this moment on such short notice in a small Canadian
city. She called for a vigorous UN humanitarian intervention.
Cajee, another prominent women's activist, told the gathering everyone
was "here because we are human beings, part of the human family,
and the horrific crime being done to the Iraqi people cannot be countenanced
crime under Nuremburg
Green Party candidate for Halifax, reminded
the assembly that, Bush and Blair had committed what the Nuremburg Statute
defined as "the supreme crime". They instigated a war of aggression
in Iraq in the absence of any prior attack from the Saddam Hussein regime
on their territories and in the utter absence, of either means or intent
to stage any such attack. Denouncing as "bogus" the U.S. "war
on terrorism", which created the pretext for invading Afghanistan,
he called on the Canadian government to bring the troops home immediately
and stated the position of his party that Canada should only send troops
abroad "for genuine peacekeeping" when authorized by the UN
that I know feel this war isn't right, either.
twelve-year-old youth Hamza Ayaz then came forward to speak. He said that
more than 50 per cent of the Iraqi population are children "like
me. I don't feel this war is right. No kids that I know feel this war
is right, either."
numerous examples of resistance by U.S. soldiers both in Iraq and within
the armed forces in the U.S. and of military families, John Dimond-Gibson,
a Dalhousie student, suggested that, with the present situation going
the way it was now in Iraq, people were bound to re-learn "the lessons
of the war in Vietnam" from the 1960s and intensify their mass mobilisations
to compel the authorities to withdraw their military forces from yet another
whole world is concerned with these great moral crimes of the 21st century
but the Martin Liberals have kept their mouths shut"
concluding and major speaker was Tony Seed, editor and publisher of shunpiking
magazine and of the Dossier on Palestine, speaking on behalf
of the People's Front. He stressed the powerful role of social conscience
in the upsurge of humanity, as in this gathering, to stand as one against
the war crimes being perpetrated in Falluja and the threat to Najaf.
declare that the war and occupation in Iraq, the occupation of Palestine,
the intervention in Haiti, the so-called war against terrorism followed
by intervention in Afghanistan, the maneuvers in the Caribbean aimed at
'regime change' in various countries there such as Cuba and Venezuela
-- all done under the veneer of 'high ideals', for 'democracy', for 'restoring
human rights' etc. -- is WRONG. The whole world is concerned with these
great moral crimes of the 21st century but the Martin Liberals have kept
their mouths shut."
spite of the disinformation and hypocrisy of the Martin Liberals to justify
Canada's support for "regime change," the anti-war movement
has kept its bearings and opposed "regime change" on principle,
not on a case by case basis.
to this theme, he stressed that "peoples in all countries have the
right to be 'masters in their own house', and this must be upheld no less
for the First Nations, the people of Quebec and the Canadian as a whole
who also suffer the consequences of domination by the United States."
But pitted against this are all the forces of the status quo. Thus, for
example, there was the racist malice reserved by Canadian media like The
Globe and Mail in such headlines as "Sunni and Shi'a unite in hatred"
against the United States -- at the very time that the Canadian government
is looking at beefing up enforcement with specially-trained police of
"hate crime" laws in the wake of suspicious arson and related
incidents at Jewish gravesites and other Jewish and Muslim community property
in Toronto and Montreal. "What could be the aim?", he asked.
must be vigilant about the modus operandi of the authorities in Iraq and
within Canada. The U.S. has trampled the rule of international law and
is escalating plans for war, which it calls the "Middle East Initiative",
using Israel as its nuclear weapon and Iraq as its new land base in the
Middle East. Fallujah and Najif are aimed to send the message. Tt is telling
the world that it will impose its dictate through the use of force on
a greater scale unless all peoples, including Canadians and Europeans,
"voluntarily" submit to its dictate.
of all, according to recently published opinion in Iraq, is the danger
of civil war, the elements of which are being incited and stirred into
sectarian, ethnic and political blood bath -- a 'civil war' in Iraq, a
country that had no history of any such thing. The people of Iraq are
a civilized and ancient people and will not stand for it. Communalism
was originally introduced into the Middle East, South Asia, Ireland, etc.,
by British colonialism. Today, all the western media propaganda and reporting
like so-called internecine Sunni-Shi'a hatred is based on this premise.
The occupation aims to institutionalize domestic conflict by formalising
into political reality the neocolonial division of Iraqi society along
religious, sectarian and ethnic lines through membership shares in the
Governing Council and other administrative bodies. The Iraq Governing
Council, appointed by its head, Paul Bremer, is constructed according
to sectarian and ethnic identity, with the Shia Arabs holding 13 seats,
the Sunni Arabs six, the Kurds four, and the Assyrians and Turkmen one
each. Other leaders represent particular tribal groupings. Realistically,
the Sunni are conscpicious in their absence. All members of the council,
bar one, were brought from abroad with the US and UK invading forces.
They even codenamed the military invasion 'freedom Iraq'.
pretexts, including fake encounters, staged events, planted news stories,
etc., and state terrorism are part of the modus operandi, including assassinations
of the UN special envoy Sergio Vieira deMello and the Swedish foreign
minister who deefended Palestine rights, ongoing incidents of bombings
of Shia mosques by the intelligence forces and Mossad agents, raids by
US special forces and oppressive operations by militia and armed gangs
into civilian homes and neighbourhoods.
Seed further pointed out that while the Martin Liberals are pushing integration
with the United States they are aggressively participating in empire-building
schemes in the Middle East and around the globe whether directly (Afghanistan,
Haiti) or indirectly (Iraq). A majority government is vital to implementing
their own imperialist strategy in what, in its recent report that no media
have discussed, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs calls "the
Muslim world". Here lurk great dangers.
this secret game", Mr. Seed outlined, "Canada is supporting
the 'multi-lateral' intrigues at the United Nations as a demagogic cover
for the imperialists. It cannot be forgotten that in April, 2002 the Liberals
and the NDP stabbed the Palestinian people in the back during the genocidal
Israeli military invasion of the West Bank called "Operation Defensive
Shield". Since then, they have been obliged to do what they could
to enhance their lost prestige through demagogy. During the period of
the American aggression against Iraq, all Canada saw once again the dirty
face of the Canadian conciliators, saw more clearly how the modus operandi
by which the Liberals rumbled in the jungle with the Bush. The USA attacked,
shocked and awed, occupied and enslaves, while the Liberals and the media
beat the drums to conceal the aggression under the din. They declared
all civilized people support the aim but not the method. But we Canadians,
being civilized, being a people of conscience, did not and do support
neither the aim nor the method. It was if they had joined the peace movement,
and a few elements declared that they were one with the Liberals. It is
The Evil One -- the problem -- they declared in chorus.
with the first Gulf War, the naval task force was deployed from Halifax
and Victoria to protect the shipping routes in the Arabian Sea, isolated
airfield bases in Newfoundland were opened to the USAF to move thousands
of troops to Iraq without opposition, Canadians staffed Central Command
and Canadian arms flowed unchecked to the US occupying forces, while a
hue and cry was raised about the inadequacy of military materiel in the
Canadian Armed Forces (helicopters, jeeps, air transport and lift).
Canadian government was famous for disputing only the methods of the U.S.
or other big powers, while accepting and endorsing the underlying principle:
in Iraq 'regime change' was fine, but by criticising invasion for this
purpose without UN authorisation, Canada decked itself out as 'civilised'.
it comes to Liberal policy in 'the Muslim world', it will as ever be the
interests of the multinationals that call the tune. What are those interests?
The family shipping company of the Prime Minister has deep and long-standing
links and involvements with the Suez and Panama Canals; could its interests
and policy in the Middle East and the Caribbean not be affected? The Montreal
multinational SNC Lavalin has a massive contract to modernise the postal
and telecommunications systems in Lebanon. In Israel, it is partnered
with the originally Canadian but now U.S.-controlled financial group responsible
for the Cross-Israel Highway project, a scheme that further "bantustan"-ises
the Palestininans by seizing more and more of their land for extensions
between this highway and Zionist colonies on the West Bank. This is the
same multinational that built the Highway 407 toll highway project, the
toll highway in northern Nova Scotia on the Trans-Canada Highway. Each
$3.25 toll that we pay profits Canadian Highways International Corp. Is
Canada's posture against the Palestinians accidental, or deliberately
ideological, or in the service of these material interests? The government
has a 'Liberal demagogy' to cover the fact that the troops and young people
in the armed forces go wherever the interests of the multinationals dictate.
The naval ships are the bailiffs for the banks and oil monopolies."
The anti war movement stands against such use of Canadian ports, bases
and territory to facilitate aggression and occupation as it does against
the militarization of the economy.
harbour for war
problem is deeper than the government's stand in any particular conflict.
What is needed is an anti-war government, and this is part of the practical
and action program needed by the movement, what the People's Front calls
"No harbour for war". In that spirit Mr Seed said that he had
been happy to sign the nomination form for Mr. Oddy and announced to applause
that he would be running in Halifax West in the upcoming federal election
for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. He would tackle the Liberal
Fisheries minister Geoff Regan, who publicly endorsed sending Caandian
troops to Afghanistan -- most of them from the Maritimes -- while presiding
over a department responsible for the cleansing of the outports of Atlantic
Canada and inciting sectarian strife between Mi-kmaq and small fishermen.
He would use the campaign to continue building weekly discussions in the
community on the serious developments taking place and how the people
can be a factor for peace and justice and nation-building under all circumstances.
He invited everyone to participate in these discussions, the Halifax Political
Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime"
gathering then resolved to proceed to march through the downtown to issue
slogans against the U.S. occupation and the war in Iraq, as well as against
all forms of Canadian support for the dangerous schemes of the big powers
in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, the Caribbean etc. The main slogan was, "From
Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime".
the next 45 minutes the gathering which had thus empowered itself, without
seeking the authorities' "permission" to exercise their rights
to freedom of speech and freedom of association, swelled to more than
150 as it proceeded, amid car honkings and many other gestures of support,
to march around the provincial legislature and return to the Library lawn.
this manner, the sideline attempts by local police even as the speeches
had been taking place to make an issue about "not being told about
this meeting in advance" were consigned to their rightful place.
the event concluded there was discussion and enthusiasm about the forum
slated for Wednesday, April 14 on current developments in Iraq and the
showing of the film about the Israeli occupation of Palestine entitled
"Beyond the Mirage, slated for Thursday April 15.
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