Two dozen people in Saint John marked the global day of action against war in Iran on Saturday, Jan. 25 with a rally outside City Hall.
The Saint John rally echoed the demands outlined in a statement issued by a collective demonstrating in Montreal on the same day. Besides demanding no war with Iran, people across Canada and the world rallied against imperialist interference and the devastating economic sanctions against Iran.
Helmi Alfarra emceed the rally, leading the demonstrators in chants, such as “no to war, yes to peace.”
Lynaya Astephen, an environmental activist who ran as a Green Party candidate in Saint John East in the 2018 provincial election, noted Saint John’s direct connection with wars in the Middle East.
“Our city is not immune to the war machine. Not far from here, Light-Armored Vehicles (LAVs) have been shipped to Saudi Arabia, at the west side Port of Saint John. The last shipment that left the port was on November 18, 2019. The Saudi cargo ship called ‘Jeddah’ left Saint John with LAVs destined for wars in places like Yemen, a nation suffering from starvation,” said Astephen.
John Nuttall, a member of the newly-formed socialist caucus of the provincial NDP, said, “We have more in common with the construction worker in Iran than we do with the warmongers.”
Remarking that it is not the heads of weapons companies like SNC Lavalin that will suffer from war but “you and me,” Nuttall said about the people in Iran, “They are people just like us who are struggling to get by and want nothing more than to live in peace and comfort, to take care of their children and parents, to come home and cook dinner with their families, to enjoy life.”
“But we cannot enjoy life in war. We cannot enjoy family in war. We cannot take care of our children and our parents in war. We cannot live in a state of war,” continued Nuttall.
Before reading a poem, Greg Cook told the crowd: “In 2003, we were on these steps to keep Canada out of the second illegal invasion of Iraq.” Before gathering for the rally, members of the socialist caucus of the NDP, left signs at the office of Liberal Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long.
Chris Wanamaker and Pierre Beaumier also gave rousing speeches against war in Iran and against war anywhere.
Those gathered at the rally expressed their desire to push the political parties, including the NDP and the Greens, to condemn not only war with Iran but also work to replace capitalism as an exploitative system that perpetuates war.
“To those who will listen and those who will not, we say peace, not war,” said Nuttall.
Astephen concluded her speech by reading the lyrics of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song, The War Racket:
And that’s how it’s done
About every thirty years
The rich fill their coffers
The poor fill with tears
The young fill the coffins
The old hang a wreath
The politicians get photographed with their names underneath
It’s the war racket
It’s the patriot game
It’s the war racket
Tracy Glynn is an editorial board member of the NB Media Co-op.