TORONTO – Hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest the US government’s violent actions in Iraq and to demand that Canadian politicians pressure the American government to promote peaceful and diplomatic de-escalating tactics. The peaceful protest took place on January 4, near the US consulate in Toronto at 360 University Avenue. Tensions are high in the Middle East after a US airstrike killed a prominent commander of the Iranian armed forces and accompanying men near Baghdad airport. US President and other top officials referred to this attack as a response to an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad where no casualties were reported. Following the killing of the top Iranian General and aimed potential conflict, the US is sending more military personnel to the region.
Less than 48 hours after the news of the attack reached Canada, a group of community organizations and political activists amassed a crowed near the US consulate in Toronto to demand that the Canadian government promote diplomacy and peaceful de-escalation in the region. This protest was held in solidarity with over 70 actions taking place in cities across the United States as part of a National Day of Anti-War Action, according to the Answer Coalition (www.answercoalition.org).
Of the hundreds of protestors who gathered, many were members of the Toronto’s vast Iranian diaspora. Saman Tabasinejad, who spearheaded the organizing of the rally said “We’ve come together today to ensure that Canada’s elected officials recognize that a majority of Iranian-Canadians oppose this act of imperialism and militarism, alongside the other community groups and political organizations that are here to stand in solidarity with us. We want our leaders to know that we do not support another war in the Middle East and that we see de-escalation and demilitarization as the only viable solution to resolve the tension that have overtaken the region”. According to the organizers, escalated attacks from the United States military have had a detrimental impact on the general population of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria and Yemen, who are already struggling under ongoing imperial proxy wars, colonial occupation, unjust sanctions and border violence.
As the crowd of protestors grew, speakers from various labour organizations, political parties and advocacy groups shared their experiences. This included anti-war organizer James Clark, who was instrumental in organizing rallies protesting Canadian involvement in the Iraq war in 2003; Moe Alqasem of the Palestinian Youth Movement; film maker and founding member of the Asian Canadian Women’s Alliance Min Sook Lee, Fatima Barron of Anakbayan Toronto, a pan-national organization of Filipino youth; performers Nasim Asgari and Sienna Jefferson; MPP Rima Berns-McGown and community activist Rizuan Rahman. Today’s action is the first in a series of protests that are being planned outside of Toronto’s US consulate building in the coming weeks. For more information on future actions, contact Saman Tabasinejda at firstname.lastname@example.org.