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Canada out of Afghanistan

Canada out of NATO

by Bruce Wark

Out of NATO
Out of NATO
Malalai Joya addresses rally
Malalai Joya addresses rally
Cornwallis covered
Cornwallis covered
Veteran peace activist Betty Peterson
Veteran peace activist Betty Peterson

About 200 protesters gathered in a park outside an international military conference in Halifax today to demand that Canada withdraw from Afghanistan and from NATO, the trans-Atlantic alliance that is waging war in Afghanistan. One demonstrator carried a sign reading "60 years is 60 years Too Long" referring to Canada's membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S.-led military alliance formed in 1949.

The protesters distributed a leaflet denouncing the Halifax International Security Forum, the conference at which more than 300 politicians, military commanders, business executives, journalists and academics were discussing such topics as the war in Afghanistan; what western leaders should do about Iran and how to combat Third World piracy on the high seas. The conference was organized by an influential Washington think tank called The German Marshall Fund of the United States and supported by the Canadian Department of National Defence as well as a $2.5 million grant from the taxpayer-supported Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

"The U.S. and its allies occupied Afghanistan under the banner of women's rights [and] human rights," Malalai Joya, a dissident member of the Afghan Parliament told the protesters. "They pushed us from the frying pan to the fire," Joya said, adding that western occupiers had replaced the Taliban with the equally repressive Northern Alliance fundamentalist warlords.

"They [the U.S. and NATO] installed a corrupt government which is full of enemies of my people and are involved in war crimes, looting and drug dealing," said Joya who has been touring the U.S. and Canada to call for the withdrawal of the foreign military forces occupying Afghanistan as well as to promote her new book A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice.

"Democracy never comes by war, by fire of guns, by cluster bomb," she said pointing out that thousands of innocent Afghan civilians are being killed on the ground by Taliban terrorists and Northern Alliance warlords, and from the air, by the bombing of western occupying forces.

"Many of the weapons and bombs used in Afghanistan, used against my people, are made in Canada," Joya said to shouts of "shame" from the protesters. "You have dropped two-thousand-pound large, Canadian-made bombs in my hometown which killed over 150 civilians, mainly women and children."

Joya addressed the rally from the foot of a statue erected to honour Edward Cornwallis, the British military commander who founded Halifax in 1749. Cornwallis imposed a bounty on the scalps of the Mi'kmaq in an attempt to exterminate them. Two protesters climbed the statue and covered it in white sheets to call attention to Cornwallis's attempted genocide.

When his turn came to speak, Tony Seed, editor of Shunpiking magazine waved a copy of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald which carried a front-page story on the military conference. The headline read: "Human rights key focus of forum." Seed pointed out that the previous day's headline had proclaimed: "Military giants pursue peace at Halifax event."

"The aim of this conference is to put a human face on NATO," Seed said. He added that it's part of a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign to hide the fact that the U.S. is using NATO to further its own military aims and that Canada is going along with it pretending it's all about peace and human rights.

"Bullshit," shouted a protester angry at the Herald's portrayal of the military conference. And then, there were more cries of "bullshit" from the crowd.   

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570 words


Thanks for writing this. I

Thanks for writing this. I also read these stories in the Herald and although I'm glad the paper is around I think their coverage of the event is quite poor. Glad to see some on the ground coverage and pretty amazing that Malalai Joya was here for the event.

Out of Afghanistan!

News for the Inside?

Thanks so much for this Bruce!  Definitely important to have an altertive view to the Chronicle Herald's coverage.

Did anyone manage to get inside the conference?  I'd be curious to know the content of the 'security' talks.

News from the inside

Thanks for the comment Hillary. Yes, I did cover the conference and have filed reports on it to The Coast --- a news piece about the discussion re Afghanistan and an editorial that will appear on Thursday about how conference participants thought rich countries should deal with piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. I have also filed a piece with the Co-op on Hillier's comments to me re Afghan torture. (He refused to take more than one question!)

positive features of this amazing rally

Dear Bruce,

Thank you for reporting some of the positive features of this amazing rally, which really stands in contrast from the incoherent soundbytes of the commercial media.

One feature which has been overlooked in all media reports, however, is that this protest/rally was planned and organized by a definite group, the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Halifax War Conference, whose statement you mention. The MetroNews even attributed the organizing to another group as did the Chronicle Herald.

The ad hoc committee, to its credit, carried definite analysis of this conference, its sponsors, and NATO itself, unmasking the whole modus operandi which included an editorial policy of virtual silence by the media until the day of the conference so that no one in Nova Scotia would be the wiser and it could be presented as a fait accompli.

On the basis of unity in action the ad hoc committee worked in a very short period to bring a lot of people and groups together as one to ensure that these war criminals were not "welcomed." It was the first time in the history of Halifax that a clearcut demand for Canada's withdrawal from NATO and its dismantling was in the forefront of an anti war demonstration.

The renaming of the Cornwallis Genocide Park was also a tribute to the First Nations such as the Innu of Labrador who have fought tooth and nail against NATO and the use of their hereditary lands for war preparations (low level flights) since the early 1950s.

That young people responded so positively and so spiritedly augurs well for the future of our movement.

Let's hope that The Coast will reprint this article so that greater numbers of Haligonians can be informed on this.

The German Marshall Fund and Peter MacKay have both stated that their war conference will be repeated next year so let's go all out to condemn it in even greater numbers.

Afghanistan Insight

Dear Bruce,

I wanted to compliment you on your blog -  You have some very insightful pieces here.  As well, I'd like to introduce myself, I am an Communications Assistant for The Mark News (www.themarknews.com) in Toronto. I thought you might be interested in a number of articles that we've just published dealing with the future of the Afghanistan Mission and Canada's Role in it.  Notably, the former Ambassadors to Afghanistan and NATO, as well as the former Vice-Chairman of the CIA National Intelligence Council bring valuable analysis.  You can find the page here : http://www.themarknews.com/topics/4

Feel free to browse the articles. We'd be happy to have you publish them on your site(s), just please link back to us!
Let me know what you think.


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