Britannia Community Center
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Fifty people packed the room at the Britannia Community Center on a Friday night to hear the panelists.
Afzal Malik, President of the Canadian Muslim Alliance, speaking on the opening panel.
Asif Ali Shah, Pakistani Social Justice Activist and MAWO Organizer
Nita Palmer, MAWO Acting Secretary and Researcher and Writer of numerous articles on Afghanistan
Ali Yerevani, Political Editor of the Fire This Time Newspaper
On Friday May 18th 2007, 50 people, including youth, students, elders and people from different backgrounds and communities, packed into the Britannia Community Center to hear speakers and participate in discussion on what exactly Canada is doing in Afghanistan. Prompted by the recent debates and motions held in parliament of Canada about the occupation of Afghanistan, the goal of the forum was to examine if these motions changed the nature of the occupation or if it was all just a smokescreen for the continuation of the Canadian war drive in Afghanistan.
The forum was introduced by the moderator Saida Osman, Students of Colour Liaison for the Capilano Students Union Executive Committee. Saida opened the forum with many of the questions people have about what exactly Canada is doing in Afghanistan, reconstruction or plunder? Democracy-building or destruction?
The first speaker was Afzal Malik, President of the Canadian Muslim Alliance who spoke about his perspective on the occupation and emphasized that the occupation of Afghanistan is not in the interest of Afghan people ang that it is not bettering their lives. Then Asif Ali Shah, Pakistani Social Justice Activist and MAWO Organizer spoke on the contradictions between what the government of Canada claims to be doing in Afghanistan and the actions of the occupation forces on the ground – he concluded that the occupation is in the interest of profit for Canada and other NATO countries, not for Afghan people.
Shah was followed by Nita Palmer, MAWO's Acting Secretary and a frequent writer and researcher on the occupation of Afghanistan. She explained in detail the motions put forward by the NDP and Liberals in Canadian parliament and how neither was any move toward ending the occupation, fully and immediately so Afghan people could determine how to run their country entirely by themselves. The final panel speaker was the
Political Editor of the Fire This Time Newspaper, Ali Yerevani. He explained how the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is a part of a bigger picture of an overall new era of war and occupation and Canada is competing with other imperialist countries in order to secure future strategic and economic interests for the ruling class of Canada.
The discussion period followed the panel presentations with everyone in the room participating with questions comments about how they understand the situation and how more and more people in Canada are beginning to see this as well. The forum was concluded with remarks from the panel, unanimously against the government of Canada’s foreign policy of war and occupation, that Afghan people must have self-determination and that the antiwar movement must continue to organize against all war and occupation until it ends.