Concordia hosts anti-war conference

On May 8, a media conference was held at Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute to launch what has been called one of the biggest anti-war conferences in North America.
Organized by the Concordia Student Union, the conference aimed to raise awareness about issues stemming from the U.S.-led “war against
terrorism”, and to provide the opportunity for organizations to plan a
series of co-ordinated activities to oppose it.
The Simone de Beauvoir Institute is one of Concordia’s schools that
houses the women’s studies program at Concordia University.
Backed by a coalition of community and activist groups including the
Quebec branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, the Indigenous
Sovereignty Network, and the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at
Concordia, the conference attracted up to 60 speakers and over 1,000
participants to strategize against war, imperialism and racism.
According to conference organizers, the war against terrorism has
escalated to violence against peoples of developing nations, and has
taken shape on the home front as civil rights are being eroded under
‘anti-terror’ laws and attacks against people of color, Arabs, and
Muslims are intensified.
Nizar Farsakh, one of the keynote speakers, witnesses first-hand the
effects of war on people. As a research associate for the Applied
Research Institute in Jerusalem, Farsakh monitors and reports on Israeli
settlement activities and human rights violations.
“It is the changes on the ground that makes people rebel,” Farsakh said.
“One day you are living in your home and the next you are in a jail.”
Over the course of the conference, workshops examined the effects of
militarism, particularly on people of color and indigenous people
worldwide. Presentations attempted to make links between such pressing
issues as the human toll of the bombing of Afghanistan and the war
crimes perpetrated in Jenin, nuclear testing in the Pacific and
low-level NATO flights over Innu Land in Canada.
Also on hand for the press conference were keynote speakers Danilo
Visamanos, an ex-Philippine Navy Officer imprisoned during the Marcos
dictatorship, Marc Laviolette, President of Conseil des Syndicats
Nationale and Monami Maulik from Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a social justice group from New York that provides direct support for
people without papers detained in the United States since Sept. 11.
Other speakers in attendance included Ellen Gabriel from the Mohawk
Maulik, 27, of DRUM and a first generation immigrant from India, grew up in a mostly immigrant community in New York City and witnessed the
effect of U.S. anti-immigration polices on family and friends: “It is
the silent repression that attempts to deflect attention away from the
war in Afghanistan.”
According to DRUM, since the tragedy of Sept. 11, immigrant communities in the United States are experiencing one of the worst-ever periods of racist backlash. In particular, the Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities have been under direct attack in the forms of racial
violence, racial profiling, and mass incarceration by the American
Immigration and Naturalization Service during the past two months.
The final day of the conference was to focus on the development and
co-ordination of an effective plan of action for the broad anti-war
movement and set the stage for like events in the future.


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