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A year of 'Hands Off Syria! Hands Off Iran!' pickets

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Anti-war pickets, 50… and Counting
Anti-war pickets, 50… and Counting

Our June 7th picket marked the 50th in the current series of weekly pickets against the U.S.- led wars of aggression and occupation that currently engulf Syria.

It has been an eventful year for our work. Thousands of leaflets and newsletters were distributed; hundreds of discussions were held. A series of problems presented themselves in the course of this participation in and further building of the anti-imperialist movement. The forces that have committed to maintaining these pickets are taking these problems up for practical solution. This article discusses how the same forces that take up their social responsibility to maintain the practical movement also pay first-rate attention to its further development.

We are living through and witnessing fateful days.

This war has spread into Lebanon. Murderous fanatics there/sneaking in across the Syrian border and financed by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar with full diplomatic cover from Washington, are hurling themselves at the throats of the Lebanese people — in the name of "destroying Hezbollah".

The patience of the people of Turkey with the Erdogan government has run out — in particular over its sponsorship ofAl-Qaeda fascist terror gangs using camps for Syrian refugees as bases from which to re-enter Syria and cause even more chaos. This weekend/linking upWith protests against a number of other unpopular decisions of the AKP regime, millions took to the streets of all the main cities of Turkey — several hundreds of thousands in Istanbul alone — to say "No!" to further meddling in the struggles of the fraternal peoples of Syria. The peak of the demonstrations was eloquently timed to coincide with the visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Ankara on the weekend (where he was expected to lay down the NATO law to the Erdogan government).

The world's people, including the Canadian people, are being further dragged into an all-consuming war. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Baird talks about Canada opposing sending a single armament to terrorist gangs inside Syria, while the Harper cabinet has ladled out at least $30 million already allegedly to support Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan — camps that the Al-Qaeda fanatics run and use exactly as they use the camps on the Syrian-Turkish border!

On a number of occasions in the recent past, either as a single event or as a series of events or now even as a semi-permanent event, the activists and supporters of the Halifax No Harbour For War! Committee staged pickets throughout Halifax-Dartmouth. These were critical moments — the dispatching of Canadian soldiers into U.S.-led wars of aggression in Afghanistan, the disclosure of secret Canadian military support lent to the U.S. adventure in Iraq, the brutal Israeli assault on the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008, etc.

Massive anti-war events grew out of this work, such as the march of 7,000 Haligonians denouncing the December 2004 "visit" of the warmonger George W. Bush. All these activities all aimed at keeping the public informed of significant developments in the growing war danger facing Canadians. However, when the urgency of the issue(s) of the day had passed, there was no sustaining work being maintained in full view of the public.

Very soon after we started this series of pickets, we added the wrinkle of an occasional flying picket. Thus on Canada Day last year, the picket moved from its usual perch at the comer of Bamngton and Spring Garden to a spot near the entrance to the Nova Scotia International Tattoo. Some of the participants had been part of a similar earlier moment: on Canada Day in 1979 when the progressive forces picketed the very first "Nova Scotia International Tattoo" to denounce the program of NATO (and Soviet-bloc) imperialist warships and highlight the rotten fascist militarization of "culture" that the Tattoo represented.

The people of Halifax opposed to imperialist war not only picketed and marched in mass rallies against the reality and the danger of imperialist war. Occasionally they took up public forums as a means to develop the discussion of these life-and- death questions. The forums in particular were information-rich and developed and maintained a clearstand. Nevertheless, in the absence of a clear line of continuously committed action by their sponsors, they could not acquire wings among the broader public and sustain themselves. As a result: no regular public line of work against imperialist war developed consistently or continuously among the people of Halifax- Dartmouth.

The richest and most important lesson of how we have gone into motion this past year has been how to stay in motion and further build the support that renders this motion self-sustaining. The anti-imperialist forces themselves have decided to regularize picketing in this NATO port city against imperialist war, and build media and support for this stand on the basis of maintaining the No Harbour For War! Committee's pickets and newsletter distribution.

The first victory accomplished since the start of the current "Hands Off Syria! Hands Off Iran!" series has been the regularizing of this No Harbour For War! newsletter. That has opened the way to launching an email list as a more frequent communication channel of current news and developments. By stepping up this work even further, we aim to give rise to a series of discussion forums, to start later this year, on the current problems and prospects for further strengthening the Canadian people's stand against imperialist war.

Source: the No Harbour For War newsletter. Copies can be obtained by writing to noharbourforwar@hotmail.com

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