A.N.S.W.E.R. STATEMENT FOR WORLD SOCIAL FORUM IN MUMBAI
I am Gloria La Riva speaking today for the ANSWER Coalition -- Act Now to Stop War and End Racism -- in the United States. On behalf of ANSWER and six other organizations in the United States -- the Free Palestine Alliance, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, American Muslim Federation, Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada, and the National Lawyers Guild -- I want to make this statement:
On March 20, 2004, the first anniversary of the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq, people in cities around the world will join together to demand: "End the Occupation - Bring the Troops Home NOW!" In the U.S., major demonstrations are planned in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many other cities.
We will demonstrate on March 20 to support the right of the Iraqi people to self-determination without condition. Since the invasion began, tens of thousands of Iraqi people have been killed. Thousands of U.S. and British soldiers have been killed or wounded. The Iraqi people are resisting the occupation - they want the foreign soldiers occupying their country to leave, not tomorrow but today. Growing numbers of U.S. soldiers and their families are calling for the troops to be brought home NOW. These soldiers are being sent to kill and be killed for a war that was based on lies and fraud perpetrated by the Bush government. There is only one solution: to end the occupation now! We believe, in the words of the National Council of Arab Americans, that "internationalizing the occupation gives colonialism a new marketable cover and should not be accepted as a viable option for the global popular movement."
We will also demonstrate on March 20 in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, including the right to return to their homes and land. The March 20 demonstration comes only ten days before the anniversary of the historic March 30, 1976, Land Day in Palestine. Calling for liberty, right to return, and self- determination for the Palestinian people on March 20 is an essential political necessity, without which the end to colonial occupations cannot be fully realized. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is part and parcel of the administration's larger colonial project targeting the people of the Middle East. While the Bush administration spends $2 billion per week to occupy Iraq, it spends $15 million each day to support Israel's war against the Palestinian people.
We will demonstrate on March 20 to overturn the "USA Patriot" Act, and to end the repression directed at Arab American, South Asian, Muslim and immigrant communities. We will defend the right to free speech and oppose Bush's and Ashcroft's war on the Bill of Rights.
We will demonstrate on March 20 to call for money for jobs, housing, health care and education, not for war and occupation.
We will demonstrate on March 20 to demand an end to the Bush administration's "Endless War" plans for global domination. We stand for an end to U.S. intervention, occupation and threats against Korea, Colombia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Syria, the Philippines, Haiti and everywhere.
Only the people's movement offers hope that an effective challenge can be mounted to the Bush administration's war drive. While the Democratic Party offers candidates to contend with Bush for the presidency, it agrees with Bush about maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq and supports continued aid to Israel as it wages war against the Palestinian people. On April 20, 2002, 100,000 people marched in an historic demonstration in Washington DC under the banner "Free Palestine." Six months later, on October 26, 2002, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against the pending war of aggression against Iraq.
On January 18, February 15-16, March 15, March 22, April 12 and most recently October 25, 2003, tens of millions of people went into the streets around the world to say no to the Bush administration's war drive. This is a monumental struggle waged by the people of the world who seek self-determination, justice and peace. Global solidarity is the centerpiece of the new mass movement that has emerged to counter the forces of militarism and colonialism. The outcome of this struggle will impact on generations to come.
End Colonial Occupation in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and everywhere! Long live international solidarity and cooperation! All out for March 20!
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