Haligonians oppose “Security Forum”

Press release issued by the Ad Hoc Committee to Oppose the Halifax War Conference, 18 November 2009

On November 20 and 21, an ad hoc committee of Haligonians and anti-war groups is holding public protests at the Westin Hotel to oppose the inaugural Halifax International Security Forum which they bluntly term the “Halifax War Conference.” They plan a mass picket at its opening on Friday afternoon at 2:30 pm and an anti war rally on Saturday at Cornwallis Park at 1:00 pm.

The public and the media are deliberately being given the false impression that this is some academic forum to talk about “peace” and “security” in order to disinform as to the real agenda of its sponsors, says Tony Seed, editor and publisher of Shunpiking Magazine who is working on a book on the origins and history of NATO.

“The disinformation of this conference starts from its title; a ‘forum’ by definition is a ‘public discussion,’ yet two-thirds of the agenda is classified as ‘off the record’ and attendance is by exclusive invitation of the German Marshall Fund, based in Washington.”

Dirk van Loon, publisher of the Liverpool-based Rural Delivery magazine, adds: “The quietly arranged event is a war conference.”

In a public statement, the group says that the Harper government has contracted the neo-conservative German Marshall Fund to convene the quietly-arranged event as part of working out new strategic arrangements for the US and Canada, and for NATO. The military bloc has launched a process to adopt a “new strategic doctrine,” at a time when great divisions are re-emerging between the USA and Europe over its role, and military forces of NATO are being deployed well beyond Europe to the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

The conference brings together an unprecedented collection of generals, admirals and allied militarists from the USA, Europe, Middle East, Columbia-Brazil, and Asia, including India with whom Stephen Harper is presently negotiating a controversial new nuclear arrangement. Featured speaker is Barrack Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, a former director of the CIA.

Former Afghan MP Malalai Joya is one of the main speakers at the public rally at Cornwallis Park on Saturday, November 21. She is speaking in Halifax as part of her tour through the U.S. and Canada to mark the publication of her memoirs A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Speak Out. As early as 2003, at a constitutional assembly in Kabul, she stood up and denounced her country’s powerful NATO-backed warlords. Two years later, she became the elected representative from the poor province of Farah in the Afghan Parliament.

“While they are carving up Afghanistan within the security and comfort of the Westin Hotel, a representative of the Afghan people will be outside speaking to Canadians about what kind of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberation’ that NATO is allegedly defending,” notes Tamara Lorinc of the Halifax Peace Coalition, which is also sponsoring a public meeting for Malalai Joya on Saturday evening at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Other speakers at the anti-war rally include Andria Hill-Lehrer of Wolfville, author of A Mother’s Road to Kandahar and a vocal opponent of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, giving interviews on radio and television, and writing articles about it throughout her son’s seven-month deployment to Kandahar. Hill-Lehr has emphasised that unconditional love and support for her son is not synonymous with support for the political agenda behind Canada’s presence in Afghanistan.

Peter MacKay, Minister of Defence and the Atlantic Gateway, is handing a reported $2.5 million in taxdollars over to the American agency to organize this massive war conference on Canadian soil.

Marshall Brush of the Student Coalition Against War says that the Harper government must be held accountable. “The budget to fund this gathering of generals and publicists is a sum equivalent to 2.5 times the provincial budget for adult literacy and equivalent to the college tuition for more than 150 student youth,” he says. “Yet, instead of improving the well-being of the Canadian people, the government has no shortage of funds for war.”

Dr Ismail Zayid of the Canada Palestine Association says that the participation of Israel, which is now integrated into NATO, is ominous for Palestine and the future for peace and justice in the region. It is sending a high-ranking representative to the conference, Gen. Amos Gilead (Gilad), Director, Political-Military Bureau, Ministry of Defense, who accompanies Gen. Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to Halifax.

By any definition, Gilead is a state terrorist, being co-ordinator of IDF activities in the Occupied Territories from 1974 to 1979 as a Chief of the Department of Military Intelligence, during which the wave of illegal settlements was launched. Citing state visits to Brazil, Dr Zayid further notes that the Israel is actively intervening in Latin America with fairy tales about “Islamic terrorism” in order to isolate Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia.

Prof Isaac Saney, co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba, says it is very dangerous when, immediately following the recent US agreement with Columbia to construct five new naval and air bases as an instrument for war, the defence minister of Columbia is then summoned to Halifax.

“It behooves Canadians to demand that the Harper government does not even tacitly or implicitly condone these dangerous developments, which work against the interests of the region. Therefore, this defence minister should not be welcomed in Canada.”

Darrell Tingley, past president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, says that a “welcoming address” by premier Darrrel Dexter may be justified by protocol but is unconscionable.

“Nova Scotians did not elect him to ‘welcome’ to our province those organizing the slaughter of working people of other lands for the sake of the greed of the rich and powerful of the earth.”

The anti-war coalition is advancing political demands that include Canada’s immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, bringing Canadian troops home now, and Canada’s withdrawal from NATO and its dismantling. It is also calls for public opposition to Condoleeza Rice’s “visit” to Halifax on December 10, International Human Rights Day.

For further information: Tony Seed, 477-0470; 444-4922

halifaxpeacecoalition.ca  |  halifaxpeacecoalition@gmail.com

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