"Canada needs to stand up against any acts of war and be a voice of peace."
Several dozen demonstrators took part in a No War With Iran action across the street from the U.S. consulate in Toronto on Saturday (January 4).
The protest was part of a National Day of Anti-War Action taking place in cities across North America in response to the U.S. assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.
Democrats in the U.S. Congress are calling the assassination unconstitutional (U.S. President Donald Trump did not seek permission from Congress for the attack.) The Special Rapporteur for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says the extrajudicial killing of Soleimani “most likely” contravenes international law.
Organizers say the protest “was to let our Canadian elected officials know that Canada needs to stand up against any acts of war and be a voice of peace.” On Friday, NATO announced a temporary suspension of its Canada-led training mission of special forces in Iraqi citing security concerns. Canada currently has some 850 troops in the MIddle East, some 250 of those in Iraq.
Trump claims his decision to assassinate the Iranian general by drone strike was “to stop a war, not to start one.”
But those at the demonstration have seen this script before in U.S.-led interventions in Iraq, Syria and Lybia. “They want to start a war,” says Zahara Kadhum, who speaks to me after she addressed the crowd from an elevated concrete planter.
Farideh Khanti, another demonstrator, says she has family in Iran. “I was in a war,” says Khanti. “I saw houses destroyed and people dying on the street. War is blood, dying and loneliness. You are nothing and they are squishing you.”
Erfan Ghasemi says the U.S. attack has the potential to destabilize the entire Middle East. “Let’s not forget that the First World War started with an assassination,” he says.
Long-time anti-war activist Faline Bobier is holding a sign that reads “End Canadian complicity.” She says she hopes that worldwide protests against the attacks will help pre-empt further U.S. aggression. “It’s not like we want to keep coming out but my hope is we can be bigger and be successful this time.”
Min Sook Lee.
Filmmaker and former NDP candidate Min Sook Lee, another speaker at the demo, called the U.S. attack “a dangerous moment in world history. We must take action to stop Trump’s march of war.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, a handful of Make America Great Again hat-wearers and all-purpose agitators familiar at anti-Muslim protests around the GTA are waving American flags. They’re holding signs that read “The end is nigh” and “Trump 2020.”