Aug 15

July 10 – Week #30

Alan Kelly and Canada needs an antiwar government

I had company on this cloudy day! It was so nice to have Alan and Kelly join me to protest.

Alan is a great anti-war activist who has helped me with my many peace events and demonstrations over the years. He is very friendly and knowledgeable. He has this easy-going and amicable way about him that allows him to connect quickly with strangers. I have gotten to know him better over the years as we have planned together the rally against the Halifax International Security Forum (the NATO war conference) every November. I was glad that he brought his big banner “Canada needs an Anti-War Government” but I was disappointed that he didn’t bring his “No Harbour for War” banner.

Alan closely follows what Canadian warships are coming and going into the Harbour. He also investigates what foreign warships are coming into Halifax and prepares a quarterly No Harbour for War publication.

Alan, Kelly and I talked about the Japanese warships that are in the Halifax Harbour right now. I told Alan that I wished that I could protest them as well, but that I didn’t have time that week to plan anything because of my children being home from school. Alan discussed the Japanese government’s self-defense force, which is really a military.

I told Alan and Kelly about the Japanese government’s plan to amend Article 9 of its Constitution and that there was a worldwide effort to prevent that “Global Article 9 Campaign”.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is the important peace provision and reads: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Yet, behind of the guise of self-defence, Japan is maintaining a military and violating its constitution – the Japanese warship in our harbour is evidence of that. We also talked about Japan’s role in the war in Iraq.

Then we discussed hydraulic fracturing – war on the earth. Kelly told us about the fracking protests in New Brunswick and the new coalition against fracking in Nova Scotia and the campaign to permanently ban fracking in this province.

The runner ran by and waved.

We got 24 honks & waves and 3 head shakes & 1 hand down.

Dedication – In solidarity with my friend, Alan, the kind and committed long-time anti-war and social justice activist in Nova Scotia. He has a weekly protest every Friday in downtown Halifax – Hands off Libya! Hands of Syria! 

Mar 20

March 13, 2013 – Week #14

It is gray and cloudy. I’m alone but I’m not lonely at the start of my protest. I’m thinking about two incredibly courageous women who I met in New York during my trip to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women conference last week: Suzuyo from Japan and Nelly from Honduras.

I should explain that I was invited to participate on a panel entitled “Confronting Military Violence: Challenging Militarized Security” organized by the Canadian Voice of Women as part of a side event to the UN’s annual women’s conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “The Elimination of Violence Against Women.” On the panel, I spoke about the research that I had done on sexual harassment and assault in the Canadian military.

VOW Panel_1

After the panel, during the Q&A period, Suzuyo stood up and told us about the 50-year struggle to close down the U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan. Her organization is the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence. She described the ongoing sexual assaults by U.S. servicemen against Japanese women. She asked “How do we close down U.S. military bases and reduce the military worldwide?” Her question is one we must all answer – how do we demilitarize and stop this violence? Later in the lobby, she came up to me and handed me a 42-page document detailing all the crimes, mostly rapes and murders of Japanese women, committed by the U.S. military personnel in Okinawa since 1945. Her persistence and pursuit of justice for the women of Japan is so inspiring. We shared our hopes for a world without militarism, hugged, and took a picture together.

With Suzuyo

The other woman who I can’t forget meeting in NY is Nelly. She is with Dreamweavers and Women in Resistance, two social justice organizations in Honduras. She was one of the presenters on a panel entitled “Violence, Economics and War.” Through a translator, Nelly talked about the deterioration of human rights in Honduras since the military coup in 2009 that installed the right-wing government of Porfirio Lobo Sosa. She described the prevalence of armed soldiers on the streets and the increase of weapons and violence across the country. Nelly listed prominent journalists and activists who have been killed over the past four years, because of their criticism of the Lobo government. She said it was transnational corporations seeking natural resources that are colluding with the undemocratic national government against the impoverished Honduran people. She also described the U.S. military base in Honduras that has been built on the pretext of the war on drugs. However, Nelly argued that drugs, corruption, and violence have risen despite the base. The U.S. has not brought stability and security to the country, exactly the opposite. She said there is a resource war now in Honduras and it is women and the earth who are bearing the burden of this war.

Nelly speaking

As Nelly spoke, I cried and couldn’t stop. I thought about the Nova Scotia Environmental Network interns (Jackie, Leigh, Sophia, & Becky) who I had working in Tegucigalpa, the capital on Honduras, many years ago with the courageous Dr. Juan Almendares of COHAPAZ. The interns reported back to me about the pollution caused by Canadian mining companies, the militarism, the poverty, and the brave resilience and resistance of the Honduran people as things were slowly improving in their country. Then the coup in 2009, the internship program ended, and we lost contact with our Honduran allies. Now, Nelly has just shared how things are far worse in Honduras. I know the Canadian government and Canadian mining companies are complicit in this horrible suffering of the Honduran people and it breaks my heart.

Today, I’m standing in solidarity with my sisters Suzuyo from Japan and Nelly from Honduras who are working diligently for peace and non-violence.

Kelly and Sharon later joined me in my protest today and because of their enthusiasm, we got 23 honks and 17 waves. Only 1 finger and 4 head shakes.