Protesters in Halifax call for peace amid growing tensions in Middle East
More than 100 people attended ‘No War with Iran’ protest in Halifax on Saturday
January 11, 2020, 9:17 pm ASTLast Updated: January 11, 2020, 9:17 pm
Days after 57 Canadians were killed following an Iranian missile strike on Ukrainian Airlines flight 752, more than 100 people gathered at Victoria Park in Halifax to call for peace.
Many hoisted cardboard signs reading “No War with Iran,” while others around the square held banners with pro-peace messages.
For Masuma Khan, one of the main event organizers, the rally was a chance to remember the cost of fighting wars amid increased international tensions. Khan is originally from Afghanistan.
“We have these rallies all the time, we have these action events, and then we forget about it all,” Khan said before the rally. “But the people who remember are the people who have family members dying back home. For me I have to bear the brunt of the death of my people every day.”
Other community members addressed the crowd by megaphone. Isaac Saney, a professor at Dalhousie University and member of Halifax-based group “No Harbour For War” denounced America’s aggressive military presence around the world. He addressed the crowd through a megaphone, stating that “We need a government in Canada that stands with genuine peace.”
Many who attended the event were students like Owen Maitzen from Dalhousie University. He was there with multi-page printed pamphlets on solidarity with Iran that he made this week.
“Not only do I want to send a message, I want to help build connections with people on the ground and pave the way for further action,” said Maitzen.
In between songs and chants, Khan remarked on the tragedy of the missile strike which killed 176 people. Of the victims, 138 were headed to Canada and 57 were Canadian citizens from across the country.
Vigils and memorial services are being held across Canada to honour the victims, five of whom had connections to Halifax. Dr. Sharieh Faghihi was a dentist in the city for many years. Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi were masters students at Saint Mary’s University. Masoumeh Ghavi, an engineering student at Dalhousie University, was on the aircraft with his sister Mandieh Ghavi.
Khan’s friend Mohammad Asadi Lari, an MD/PhD student studying at the University of Toronto, was one of those who died in the crash. She said for people from the Middle East, the tragedy of war is ever-present.
“I don’t want people to forget about this because this is going to continue. This is not over,” Khan said in an interview before the event. “There is no justification for war, no matter what.”
After the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3, Iran retaliated with airstrikes on a U.S. military base in Iraq. On Jan. 8, Iranian military officials mistook the Ukrainian Airlines plane as a missile after it took off from Tehran’s airport.
In a media release Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada will press for a “complete and thorough investigation” into the circumstances of the missile strike.
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