Occupy Boston’s Peace Action Working Group (PAWG) co-sponsored a march and rally on February 4 as part of an international day of action to oppose war against Iran.
Over 200 activists marched from Park Street to Copley Square, stopping briefly for a speak-out at the Israeli Consulate at Park Plaza. Participants included representatives from the International Action Center, Veterans for Peace, United for Justice With Peace, Beacon Hill Quakers, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, among others. Boston and over 60 other cities worldwide demanded: “No War! No Sanctions! No Assassinations! No Intervention!”
United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and President Obama both declare that “no options are off the table” with regard to the alleged terrorist and nuclear threat posed by Iran; options of peace and moral diplomacy exist, but so too do options of war and terrorism.
Last November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued what the New York Times deemed a “landmark report” ostensibly indicating that Iran had been attempting to build nuclear warheads. However, many investigative analysts have disputed the report––including Seymour Hersh, who earned a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news of the U.S. 1969 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. According to Hersh’s sources, Iran enriches uranium “at very low levels for peaceful purposes,” and everything enriched is monitored under tremendously close surveillance. Major U.S. media coverage is little more than the “sort of a hysteria that we had over Iraq” before the 2003 invasion of that country, he argues.
In recent years several eminent Iranian scientists have been assassinated. Chemist Mostafa Ahmadi recently perished after the explosion of a “magnetic bomb placed on his car;” Masoud Ali Mohammadi––a senior physics professor at Tehran University––was murdered when a motorcycle exploded by his car; Shahid Beheshti University scientist Majid Shahriari was bombed to death, while motorcyclists also gunned down electronics student Darioush Rezaeinejad. According to Al Jazeera, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi maintains that Iran’s nuclear intentions are benign and attributes the killings to “foreign government sponsored terrorism.” Israeli writer Ronen Bergman agrees that the attacks intend to “spread fear among other scientists.”
Back home, Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum said, “I’m hopeful that the United States is involved,” in the assassinations, and “I think it’s a wonderful thing.” Mitt Romney said he supports the “crippling sanctions” imposed against Iran’s central bank.
According to Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, the sanctions predictably coexist with the “antagonistic psychological warfare” which has characterized U.S. foreign policy relations in the area for the past three decades. They are “totally illogical,” he said.
At Boston’s rally, Iranian Harvard student Alex Shams explained that, thanks to U.S. sanctions, “If [his] grandmother gets sick in Iran, [he] can’t send her money. It’s illegal.” Shams likened new developments in Iran to the Iraqi sanctions of the 1990s (which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians). Such policies of violence and fraud are extremely immoral, he stressed.
Shams denounced Islamophobia and the hypocritical stereotypes that judge Muslims as primitives who ride “donkeys and camels.” If the military industrial societies were so “psychologically advanced,” he said, they would not wage war on innocent civilians all across the Arab world.
The Obama Administration contends that the current policy of using unmanned drones in “precise, targeted, focused strikes” is the best way to combat those “on an active list of terrorists.” However, on February 4 the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that “between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed“ by drones in Pakistan since 2009, including more than 60 children. The report explained that CIA tactics in Pakistan also targeted rescuers and funerals. British civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith likened this to “attacking the Red Cross on the battlefield.”
At Park Street Station, Tito Meza asked of his government: “You bomb schools, kill children, and you’re telling me this is democracy?” Similarly, Jeff Kline from United for Peace and Justice argued that a democratic government should fund education and healthcare, rather than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war. “More doctors, fewer drones,” Kline demanded.
Occupiers marched down Tremont Street, many holding signs. One read: “If the politicians want another war, let them send their sons and daughters.” And another: “War makes the 1% richer and the 99% poorer.”
At the Israeli Consulate on Park Plaza, several speakers protested the disastrous policies upheld by the U.S. and Israel. Kline addressed the crowd again, criticizing Israel’s “campaign to ratchet up public fear and hostility in order to make a war with Iran possible.”
While Iran has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Israel–– the U.S.’ strong ally––has not. On January 25, Secretary Panetta said, “there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.”
One key variable in the equation is the Strait of Hormuz––an important pathway by which tankers ship vast amounts of oil from Bahrain, Kuwait, Quatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates into the Indian ocean. If threatened seriously by the U.S., Iran will adopt a policy of “smart control” on the passage, according to a Feb 14 issue of the Tehran Times. An attack by Israel or a confrontation with the enormous U.S. military presence in the area could entail utter disaster. Shirin Shafaie, representative of the Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, argues that an ensuing war would benefit nobody but the U.S. Military Industrial Complex.
Marching from Park Plaza to Copley Square, occupiers chanted “no blood for oil,” suggesting that the potential war has to do with petroleum, big business and geopolitics, not an Iranian nuclear threat. “Bring U.S. troops, mercenaries & war dollars home now,” demanded a sign.
At Copley, pro-peace speakers voiced the perspective of the 99%. Egyptian Osama Mohamed explained that his country’s revolutionary movement wants a direct democracy of the 99%, not a military rule by the 1%. “The American Dream is still alive,” he holds. “But it is not about money. It is about justice.” Afterward, Maureen Sheehan of the Women’s Fight Back Network declared, “it is war when mothers cannot feed their children.” We do not need “military recruiters in our high schools and on our campuses” she contends, but “women’s rights, equal rights. Solidarity is our most potent weapon.” Pat Scanlon of Veterans for Peace concluded the speaking, advocating for greater concern and awareness amongst the population at large: “We need millions to take to the streets.” He urged supporters to attend a Saint Patrick’s Day Peace Parade March 18.
As the crowd receded beneath the chilly blue sky, one college-aged girl lingered for a bit on the grass below the scenic Trinity Church. She held a handmade sign colored with multicolored marker. The message quotes the late Jimi Hendrix:
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”