ILPS Strength in Unity and Bay Area Grassroots Contingent Mobilized over 200 to Protest the U.S. Imperialist wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan!

 

ILPS bay area grassroots and strength in unity contingent

ILPS bay area grassroots and strength in unity contingent

Hundreds of protesters participated in an anti-war march in downtown San
Francisco demanding an end to the United States-led occupation of Iraq and
Afghanistan. Yesterday marked the sixth year of the invasion and colonial
subjugation of Iraq.

Organized by the International League of People’s Struggle – Bay Area
Organizing Committee, the *Strength in Unity* contingent assembled in a park
near the Embarcadero late in the morning before proceeding to the main
demonstration site at Justin Herman Plaza. Around noon, the group marched
with other formations towards the Civic Center.

The ILPS contingent was composed of 220 students, workers, professionals,
and human rights activities from around the Bay Area communities. The
Philippine delegation was led by BAYAN USA Northern California region and
member organizations Anakbayan East Bay, babae SF, Committee for Human
Rights in the Philippines SF, and League of Filipino Students – San
Francisco State University.  Other members of the contingent included Active
Leadership to Advance the Youth, Arab Resource and Organizing Committee,
Collision Course Video, Chinese Progressive Association, Malcolm X
Grassroots Movement, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, General Union of
Palestinian Students of San Francisco State University, Filipino Community
Center, and Viet Unity.

Carrying colorful and big placards recycled from balikbayan boxes,
protesters demanded the Obama administration to stop the criminal and
genocidal occupation of Iraq by removing U.S. troops stationed in the
war-ravaged country. They also criticized Obama’s recent decision to add at
least 17,000 more troops in Afghanistan. The illegal wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan have killed, displaced, and injured millions of innocent Iraqis
and Afghans.

 

League of Filipino Students in San Francisco State University calls for the United States to end the unequal relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines

League of Filipino Students in San Francisco State University calls for the United States to end the unequal relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines

During the protest rally, various groups organized discussion sessions and
distributed statements denouncing the continued imperialist aggression of
the U.S. They reminded Pres. Obama of their earlier challenge to pull out
troops in various countries in the Middle East and other countries like
Japan and the Philippines.

 

Protesters also highlighted the escalating cost of the war and contrasted
this to the dwindling funds for social services. According to conservative
estimates, the U.S. has spent more than USD 600 billion on the war in Iraq,
and more than USD 200 billion in Afghanistan. Instead of using taxpayers’
money to finance the brutal massacre of Iraq and Afghanistan, protesters
want the government to prioritize the improvement of social welfare and the
economic conditions of its citizens.

ILPS members pointed out that it is unjust, immoral, and wrong to spend
billions of dollars on various killing machines while millions of Americans
are losing their jobs, homes, and retirement savings everyday. Aside from
articulating the usual list of anti-war demands, yesterday’s protesters
echoed the sentiments of ordinary Americans seeking immediate economic
relief. Activists ordered policymakers to “Bailout the working people, not
the rich.”

*Groups demand VFA abrogation*

Local issues affecting ILPS member groups were also highlighted in the
rally. East Bay activists wore T-shirts bearing the face of Oscar Grant, an
unarmed civilian who was shot to death by a BART police officer last
January. Protesters are seeking justice for Grant who has become the latest
human rights victim in a supposedly democratic society.

Filipino groups were joined by other nationalities in asserting the
abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. The one-sided agreement allows
U.S. troops to enter Philippine soil which clearly violates the sovereignty
of the Philippines. Several fact-finding investigations have confirmed that
U.S. troops stationed in the Philippines have participated in actual
anti-insurgency combat operations in the country. Unknown to many Americans,
their troops have been clandestinely participating in an illegal war in its
former colonial territory. The campaign to junk the VFA became more intense
when a U.S. soldier was convicted by a Philippine court of raping a young
Filipina. U.S. authorities have refused to surrender its custody over the
soldier.

During the rally, members of LFS and BAYAN USA demanded the immediate repeal
of the unequal treaty. The contingent circulated a petition to terminate
VFA, which was launched by BAYAN USA last week.  They also asked Congress to
stop giving military aid to the Philippines. The Philippine military has
been accused of being involved in the extrajudicial killings of activists
and other government critics.

*Police violence*

The protest march was peaceful. But during the end of the march, some
Zionist counter-protestors instigated conflict with members of the Arab
community. The police intervened and used excessive violence to arrest some
members of the Arab Resource and Organizing Committee. The activists were
charged with obstructing arrest and felony lynching. The arrested activists
are now asked to post bail of $53,000 each in order to be released. This is
clearly a case of harassment against groups which espouse a radical brand of
politics. BAYAN USA and ILPS will be mobilizing its members to campaign for
the upholding of human rights and freedom of the detained protesters.

*Continuing protests*

* *

Yesterday’s anti-war march has again proven that the continuing U.S.-led
occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is vigorously opposed by many individuals
and groups in the U.S. The protest became a venue to denounce the unjust
foreign policies of the government. Anti-war demands became more relevant
when they were linked to the deteriorating economic conditions in the
country. The event united various local groups which were given the
opportunity to present their particular demands. There will be more protests
in the coming days and weeks. Obama will face the people’s wrath if he
continues to implement the imperialist policies of his predecessor. The
anti-imperialist movement of the working people will continue to grow as it
fights injustice and poverty in the world.

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