KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Thoughts of the passengers of the plane shot down above Iran were never far from the minds of the 200 or so people who attended an anti-war rally in downtown Halifax on Saturday.
The plane was hit by Iranian military who mistook it for a hostile target and all passengers and crew died. Many of these passengers had ties to Canada and Halifax.
Masuma Asad Khan, who was the MC for the rally, early on offered this observation.
“Folks are using the plane crash as a justification for war. Like so many people in this city I lost someone on that plane. It has touched us all. We will not let this be used as a justification for war. My friend did not die so that his people could be murdered,” Masuma said.
Stopping such a war, and ending devastating sanctions and the constant threat of war in the entire region, as well as Canada’s complicity in all this, was foremost on everybody’s mind.
People sang, chanted and listened to speeches.
“We’re here today because we are living through an extremely dangerous time. Many of us who have children, such as myself, worry what kind of future they will inherit. Will it be an ecological catastrophe? Will it be a world replete with war,” asked Dr. Isaac Saney of No Harbour for War.
“This is a case of us opposing imperialism. In 1991 the first Gulf War was launched under false pretenses. And this led, after years of punishing sanctions, to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, again under false pretenses. This drive for US global hegemony, this drive to control significant resources, must be opposed, and we must also oppose Canada’s role in this imperialist aggression,” said Saney.
“Canada must stand for peace,” said Rana Zaman, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. “We call for a complete withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the region, including a withdrawal of Canadian troops currently on mission in Iraq.”
“For peace and security in the region, the government of Canada must have an independent foreign policy from the US, uphold international law, respect human rights and work to the United Nations. Rather than supporting the arms industry and the environmental devastation caused by military aggression, Canada must support diplomatic initiatives toward de-escalation and de-militarization in the region,” Zaman said.
Larry Haiven, speaking for Independent Jewish Voices, received loud applause when he reminded people at the rally of the shameful way Zaman was recently treated by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
“To the likes of Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland the relationship with a tyrannical white supremacist president is more important than human rights and democracy. US officials are saying they just took out the world’s number one bad guy, but let me tell you, that guy is sitting right there in the White House,” Haiven said.
“Our government and our country cannot be considered a peacekeeping nation anymore. Trudeau and his administration is supported right wing coups across Latin America, continues to sell arms to the Saudi regime which continues to slaughter thousands in Yemen,” said Haiven.
“It is up to us to make them act. We must make them feel uncomfortable and demand every day that they condemn these heinous actions. We must stand here today and say that is not our war,” he said.
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